Missions

Missions today

Missions and missionaries have historically served a wide range of purposes, from altruistic endeavors to those aligning with imperialistic agendas. They exist at the intersection of development, humanitarian aid, and colonial expansion.

In today’s context, UN and NATO peacekeeping and reconstruction missions follow a “3D approach,” which integrates diplomacy, development aid, and defense strategies. These missions, known as conflict prevention and peacekeeping/reconstruction missions, are primarily carried out by Western coalition forces under the umbrella of the UN and NATO. They have grown in scale, covering larger territories and reshaping the societal roles of armed forces.

Countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, which have been subject to international missions in recent decades, have experienced fragmentation into volatile safe and unsafe zones, rendering vast areas uninhabitable.

Recent findings from the Institute of Economics and Peace show a global trend of diminishing peace since 2007. Out of the 162 countries surveyed in their latest study, only 11 remained uninvolved in conflict. This is a stark contrast to the post-World War II era, which saw decreasing unrest but was disrupted by heightened violence after 9/11 and the subsequent War on Terror. US Secretary of State John Kerry, in The New York Times, heralded the onset of a new era characterized by global coalitions advocating for enhanced utilization of political, humanitarian, economic, law enforcement, and intelligence measures to bolster military efforts.

The Missions seminar aims to analyze the widespread international influx of conflict into civic domains through public discourse on the underlying mechanisms and agendas driving these transformations. Covering themes such as religion, migration, economy, war, peace, and diplomacy, the seminar program navigates between scales and agendas to explore contemporary global missions, encompassing both institutional endeavors and the activities of individual “missionaries”.

The seminar includes presentations by Erella Grassiani, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Amsterdam, on private armies; Joel van der Beek, an economic researcher and strategist involved with Erasmus University Rotterdam, SIPRI, and Economists for Peace and Security, on economics of war and peace; Nora Akawi, an architect based in Studio-X Amman and Columbia University, on migration in Jordan; Pelin Tan, a researcher and writer based in Mardin, Turkey, on conflict and territorial politics, and a representative of the Dutch Ministry of Defense.

The seminar includes presentations by Erella Grassiani, a post doctorate researcher at the University of Amsterdam, on private armies; Joel van der Beek, economic researcher and strategist involved withErasmus University Rotterdam,SIPRIandEconomists for Peace and Security, on economics of war and peace; Nora Akawi, an architect based in Studio-X Amman and Columbia University, on migration in Jordan; Pelin Tan, a researcher and a writer based in Mardin, Turkey, on conflict and territorial politics and a representative of theDutch Ministry of Defense.

The seminar is part of Drones and Honeycombs project and is organised in partnership with the Foundation for Achieving Seamless Territory (FAST), DPR-Barcelona and Columbia University’sStudio-X.

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