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In Pirate Lands, Ursula Daxecker and Brandon Prins argue that the maritime piracy flourishes in places where elites and law enforcement can be bribed, but also have access to functioning roads, ports, and markets. Using statistical analyses and interviews conducted in Indonesia, Nigeria, and Somalia, Daxecker and Prins show how governance at the local level explains why some coastal communities experience more piracy than others. During this book launch, we speak with the author Ursula Daxecker about the book. Discussants Ryan Jablonski (LSE) and Ward Berenschot (UvA) offer their views. Abbey Steele is moderating the event.

Event details of Book launch for Pirate Lands: Governance and Maritime Piracy
Date 18 November 2021
Time 16:00 -17:30

Maritime piracy's unlikely re-emergence following the end of the Cold War was surprising as the image of pirates evokes masted galleons and cutlasses. Yet, the number of incidents and their intensity skyrocketed in the 1990s and 2000s off of the coasts of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, India, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Somalia.

As Ursula Daxecker and Brandon Prins demonstrate in Pirate Lands, maritime piracy-like civil war, terrorism, and organized crime-is a problem of weak states. Surprisingly, though, pirates do not operate in the least governed areas of weak states. Daxecker and Prins address this puzzle by explaining why some coastal communities experience more pirate attacks in their vicinity than others. They find that pirates do well in places where elites and law enforcement can be bribed, but they also need access to functioning roads, ports, and markets. Using statistical analyses of cross-national and sub-national data on pirate attacks in Indonesia, Nigeria, and Somalia, Daxecker and Prins detail how governance at the state and local level explain the location of maritime piracy. Additionally, they employ geo-spatial tools to rigorously measure how local political capacity and infrastructure affect maritime piracy.

Drawing upon interviews with former pirates, community members, and maritime security experts, Pirate Lands offers the first comprehensive, social-scientific account of a phenomenon whose re-appearance after centuries of remission took almost everyone by surprise.

About the Author

Ursula Daxecker is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Amsterdam and a member of the Amsterdam Institute of Social Science Research. Her research interests are in contentious politics, political violence, and crime, exploring the illicit and often violent processes that play out in countries with intermediate orders. Daxecker examines the international and domestic processes contributing to the persistence of political violence and crime in spite of - or perhaps even because of –progress towards democracy and order. Her research has been funded by the US Department of Defense Minerva Initiative, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, and the European Commission's Marie Curie actions. From 2020-2025, she leads a project on elections and violence in India and Nigeria funded by the European Research Council. Her work is published in British Journal of Political Science, Comparative Politics, Journal of Peace Research, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Public Choice, and Electoral Studies, among others. 

Link to the book



Political Science Common Room REC B9.22