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Abstract

This article explores the loud presence of private security contractors in the evolving and buoyant discussion surrounding Darfur. Relying primarily on statements by security contractors and industry lobby organizations, this article suggests that neo-liberal governmentality has bolstered the expert status of security contractors in the discussions surrounding Darfur. Both in Darfur and more widely, neo-liberal governmentality tends to 'depoliticize' security as public debate narrowly focuses on the technicalities and costs of military solutions, while alternative political options, local knowledge and diplomatic alternatives become marginalized. Consequently, public debate may be intense (as is certainly true for Darfur) but lopsidedly centred on security restrictively understood. The depoliticizing trend tied to neo-liberal governmentality is an important change in security governance in Darfur of course, but also in Africa more broadly and beyond. However, since it works through what the editors of this issue refer to as the 'complex relations between public and private, state and civil society actors' it tends to eschew analyses assuming that privatization is signifi cant only when and if it undermines public authority and control. The account here testifi es to the importance of changes in governance that involve public and private actors alike.

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