A range of actors in armed conflict-affected southeast Burma 'frame' (Tarrow 1994) issues and contest positions within the field (Bourdieu 1977) of protection (Slim and Bonwick 2005). These activities are mapped and critically analysed throughout the chapters which constitute this dissertation by publication. Actors' varying degrees of success depend on the resources available (Bourdieu 1990), the strategies adopted and the attractiveness of their positions in relation to potential supporters...[Show more] and allies (Bob 2005, Fiddian-Qasmiyeh 2009) and the meta-frameworks dominant in global networks (Keck and Sikkink 1998). Successful actors seek to legitimise (or 'naturalise' - Bourdieu 1977, 164-67) their positions through networks of power and meaning (Wood and Shearing 2007), becoming dominant voices and actors in the security-humanitarian nexus. While not ignoring the positions of dominant ('mainstream') stakeholders, one of my main purposes is to describe and analyse the agency of actors which are marginalised in existing academic and policy literatures and practices. In the absence of international aid agencies, local civil society, political and armed groups are key actors in this complex conflict context. In examining relationships of discourse and practice between mainstream state and international agencies (e.g. sovereign governments, UN agencies) and local actors, I develop the notion of 'non-system' actor, to designate stakeholders operating beyond the security and humanitarian mainstream. Among these networks, civilian populations are the least powerful and most vulnerable. Nevertheless, they find ingenious and brave ways of coping with often intolerable situations - although 'self-protection' strategies are not always sufficient to ensure peoples' survival in dignity and safety. I critically analyse the relationships between local, national and international protection and other aid interventions, and the political economy of conflict (deWaal 1997, Duffield 2001 and 2008, Goodhand 2006, Keen 2008, Kuperman 2008). I unpack the identities and interests structuring and structured by actors' positions (Bourdieu 1977 and 1990), and critique the assumptions and agendas of both dominant and marginalised actors, particularly in relation to the 'liberal-progressive' paradigm which informs much humanitarian work. Questions of legitimacy are implicated also in the relationships between knowledge (in this case, of humanitarian conditions in southeast Burma) and power, and access to field sites.
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