Insecure Spaces

Peacekeeping, Power and Performance in Haiti, Kosovo and Liberia

Marsha Henry and Paul Higate


The Blue Berets have become markers of peace and security around the globe. This book develops critical perspectives on UN and NATO peacekeeping. It suggests that peacekeeping reconfigures former conflict zones in ways that shape perceptions of security.
In recent times, the Blue Berets have become markers of peace and security around the globe. Yet, the iconoclastic symbol of both the Blue Beret and the Blue Helmet continue to engage the international political imagination in ways that downplay the inconsistent effects of peacekeeping missions on the security of local people.

In this book, Paul Higate and Marsha Henry develop critical perspectives on UN and NATO peacekeeping, arguing that these forms of international intervention are framed by the exercise of power. Their analysis of peacekeeping, based on fieldwork conducted in Haiti, Liberia and Kosovo, suggests that peacekeeping reconfigures former conflict zones in ways that shape perceptions of security. This reconfiguration of space is enacted by peacekeeping personnel who 'perform' security through their daily professional and personal practices, sometimes with unanticipated effects. Insecure Spaces interdisciplinary analysis sheds great light on the contradictory mix of security and insecurity that peace operations create.

Author Bio

Paul Higate is a Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Bristol. Prior to that, he spent eight years in the Royal Air Force, before becoming involved in critical military sociology. Since then, his academic research has focused on various aspects of the gendered culture of the military. In his future work he plans to look at how the militarization of military sociology in recent years means that it has lost its critical edge.

Marsha Henry is a Lecturer in the Politics Department at the University of Bristol. Her research has looked at various aspects of gender in South Asia, focusing on connections between the 'developed' and 'developing' worlds. Her recent research examines gender relations and perceptions of security in peacekeeping missions.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Acronyms & Abbreviations
  • Introduction
  • 1. From Conflict to Peacekeeping: Haiti, Kosovo & Liberia
  • 2. Space, Power and Peace
  • 3. Zones and Enclaves
  • 4. Free to Move?
  • 5. Contesting and Consuming: Space and Success in Liberia
  • 6. Performing Spaces of Security
  • 7. Stereotyping Performance: Peacekeeping and Imagined Identities
  • 8. Women, Men and Gender Space
  • Conclusion - Locating Power in Peacekeeping: Unintended Consequences and Beyond
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index


'Insecure Spaces is an innovative analysis of international power in its material, spatial and visual manifestations, an ethnography of peacekeeping and of the effects it produces on the everyday life of the ordinary people who are involved with it. A much needed study that adds a new dimension to the way we understand the making of peace.'
Laura Zanotti

'In this innovative analysis of the spaces and performances of peacekeeping and peacekeepers, Higate and Henry take a fresh, critical look at how the practices of peacekeeping are constituted and experienced, and how understandings of security develop as a consequence amongst those whose lives and work are shaped by the presence of the Blue Helmets. Taking a conceptually sophisticated approach, case studies of peacekeeping in Haiti, Kosovo and Liberia are unpacked in order to understand how peacekeepers create and maintain spaces of security and insecurity.'
R.E. Woodward

'Working in a genuinely interdisciplinary framework, Higate and Henry are to be commended for this nuanced exploration of power relations in 'everyday' international peacekeeping practices. They provide an array of interesting empirical and theoretical insights into how 'secure' and 'insecure' spaces are constructed and percieved in the interplay of external actors and local populations.'
David Chandler

'This contribution to the critical literature on peacekeeping is a hugely important antidote to the hegemonic positivism that claims to measure the ‘success’ or otherwise of operations. The authors use the lens of prosaic spatial practices and perceptions of peacekeeping as performance. Based on in-depth fieldwork the authors uncover peacekeeping as a vehicle of power and its spaces as sites of everyday adaptation and resistance. The work has an intellectual elegance that will be hard to match.'
Michael Pugh, University of Bradford


Publication Date: 14 May 2009
208 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781842778876
eBook ePub: 9781848137066
eBook PDF: 9781848134300
eBook Kindle: 9781780328119
Library Edition: 9781842778869

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