Commodifying peace: Intimate warfare and prevention economies in Kenya

Project description

Building on the securitization premise, this PhD project discusses the political economy of “Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism” (P/CVE) and its impact on local peacebuilding, humanitarian and human rights CSOs. It investigates the structural changes in the aid industry and programmatic consequences for aid recipients as a result of P/CVE. On a structural level, encouraged through a donor market that favors security relevant programming in an age of funding scarcity, P/CVE leads not only to a securitization and technocratization but to a commodification of peace. On a programmatic level, the dissertation discusses P/CVE as a form of “intimate warfare” in the service of the neoliberal security state. Nora is interested in the politics of care that lie at the center of P/CVE approaches, investigating how discourses of collective care and self-care shape P/CVE programs on the local level, thereby generating resilient and docile citizens in the name of prevention. P/CVE is therefore a biopolitical tool to govern “ungovernable” spaces at the margins where the welfare state is absent. The research investigates how P/CVE has depoliticized social justice demands and structural government neglect throughout different spaces. Finally, the dissertation discusses local agency and resistance against the securitization of peacebuilding, and strategic negotiation of national and international security agendas within the civil society space in Kenya.

The PhD project employs a decolonial feminist perspective, theorizing gender as discursively constructed, fluid and embodied technology rather than stable coherent signifier. Through qualitative data analysis, Nora combines feminist ethnographic and critical discursive methods.

This dissertation is part of a larger SNF PRIMA grant-funded project led by Dr. Elizabeth Mesok, titled Gendered Security Strategies: How Gender Matters in the Policy and Practice of ‘Countering Violent Extremism’.

Supervisor: Dr. Elizabeth Mesok
Co-Supervisor:  Prof. Dr. Laurent Goetschel


Nora Naji is a PhD Researcher in Political Science and part of the part of the Gender, War and Security Research Group at the University of Basel and associated researcher at swisspeace. Previously, she was a Fellow at the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ) at New York University. She holds a BA in International Relations from the University of Geneva and a MA in Culture and Politics from Leiden University in the Netherlands. Prior to joining the Gender, War, and Security Research Group, she was a Junior Project Manager at swissnex San Francisco. She also gained professional experience in the Human and Social Sciences Sector at UNESCO in Paris and at a human rights organization in Amman. She specializes in conflict prevention, human rights, gender, urban conflict, humanitarian innovation and design. She is committed to the advancement of racial, environmental and social justice.



Nora Naji 
Zentrum Gender Studies 
Rheinsprung 21, Office U4.001
4051 Basel