Cameron Graham

Cameron Graham
University of Tennessee | UTK · Department of Sociology

Doctor of Philosophy

About

Introduction
My name is Cameron Graham, and I'm a first year Ph.D student at the University of Tennessee. My primary specialization is Political Economy, with a secondary specialization in social theory. My research interests within these two concentrations are broad, however, I'm currently focused on global militarism, with an emphasis on private military/private security companies within the context of neoliberalism.

Projects

Projects (2)
Project
The aim of this project is to employ a socio-historical case study that tracks the rise of climate security through the reinvigoration of private forces in the example of Pinkerton as a contemporary firm that has been recognized as a primer for this new niche in the market for force, and what implications this has for future securitization of climate policy. The contributions of this study seek to 1) affirm climate security as a pertinent research focus in political economy, 2) expand the literature surrounding PMSCs to incorporate their relation to nature in the global economy, and 3) highlight the mechanisms of militarism through state and non-state power and the policies and practices regarding human and environmental relations.
Project
While private armies are not new to the history of warfare, the use of private military/security companies (PSMCs) escalated in the late 20th and early 21st century. (Hagedorn 2014). The Blackwater incident in Fallujah during the early years of the Iraq War both raised awareness of these groups and invoked debates in public, political, and academic spheres concerning the legality and ethical implications of these organizations (Barnes 2017). Some assert that the use of private contractors is an efficient, necessary alternative to conventional government military operations, whereas others have more critically posited PSMCs to be mercenaries (Scahill 2007), agents of neocolonialism (Zabci 2007), or the epitome of 21st century fascism by transnational corporations and private actors (Phillips et al. 2015). Certainly, a wide array of literature has emerged in recent decades, although Barnes (2017) notes that much of the academic and political discussions have been predominantly concerned with debates about the nature and ethics of PSMCs and the ambiguity of their international perceptions. Scant attention has been given to PSMCs specifically within the context of global neoliberalism, with the exception of few authors who have initiated a dialogue in connecting such organizations to the recent, and ongoing, political and economic changes worldwide (Ettinger 2011; Godfrey et al. 2013). However, there appears to be little to no updated literature about PSMCs with regard to neoliberalism, as these organizations continue to become more widespread in the U.S. and even non-Western nations. Therefore, the aim of this project seeks to extend the debate of understanding how the private contractor phenomenon has situated in the emergence of globalization, increasing privatization, and altering roles of the state in military conflicts and international security. The following research questions, then, will guide this paper: 1). How has the increase of PSMCs coincided with the emergence and rise of neoliberalism from the 20th century to the present? 2). How have nation-states’ monopolies on force waned within neoliberalism and the privatization of warfare? With increased use of PSMCs by the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as now China, Russia, and several others, it is expected that the private military/private security industry will continue to grow as various nation-states and transnational companies seek new opportunities for expanding their reach without conventional government sanctioned troops. Certainly, there is a broad literature focusing on PSMCs, some of which convey support for such endeavors and others who more critically posit such organizations as nefarious entities in the global arena. A major goal of this paper, then, is to provide a concise overview and update of the political economy of private military & private security contractors.