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The Spy Who Came In from the South

By Darryl Li

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Cite As:
Li, Darryl. 2020. “The Spy Who Came In from the South”. Cultural Anthropology 35 (2):231–236. https://doi.org/10.14506/ca35.2.06.

Abstract

Dominant imaginaries of espionage presume that all states surveil their populations but that only the powerful ones can play the “great game” of spying outside their borders. How, then, does a poor postcolonial state spy abroad? Drawing on an ethnography of Arab migrants and jihad fighters in Bosnia and Herzegovina, this essay suggests one answer: powerful states have their spies pose as diplomats, while weak ones exploit their diasporas. This realization takes one step toward demystifying and de-exceptionalizing state intelligence apparatuses and understanding them as socially embedded institutions.

Keywords

espionage; migration; security; labor