In the aftermath of the Cold War and the wake of globalization, a new type of organized violence emerged. The “new war” blurs the distinctions between traditional warfare, privately organized crime, and large-scale human rights violation, which marks its growing illegitimacy. Kaldor attributed this shift to “the intensification of global interconnectedness – political, economic, military and cultural – and the changing character of political authority.” Under this backdrop, gender plays a key role in shaping “new war” dynamics.
Situated near the major maritime choke point at Bab el Mandeb and along the Gulf of Aden, Somalia is strategically placed in the global maritime navigation and trade network. Under this backdrop came the golden age of Somali piracy (2007-2012), which is almost exclusively predicated on a method of hijack-and-ransom, constraining the seamless flow of goods in the global supply chain network. The rise of piracy was rooted in foreign maritime predation and the state response, but also sustained by the anchoring of pirates to their local communities and their distinct approach to hijacking at sea. Through these interlinking mechanisms, both piracy and counter-piracy measures reflect and challenge logics of supply chains, security, and imperialism. Beyond illuminating those neglected from the global network, they highlight the interconnectedness of security and trade, the prevailing discourse around piracy and violence, and the naturalization of racial hierarchy in ransom negotiations.