Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies

Transforming Insecurity from the Grassroots

Dr Eric Herring, University of Bristol

9 December 2014

Dr Eric Herring presents his talk

Dr Herring discussed his Trinsec project which examines how nonviolent grassroots networks transform insecurity.


The Conflict, Security & International Order Cluster at PoLIS was delighted to welcome Dr Eric Herring to the University of Bath on 9 December to deliver a talk about his Transforming Insecurity project (Trinsec). The talk was entitled, ‘Transforming Insecurity from the Grassroots’. Dr Herring, who is a Reader in International Politics at University of Bristol, examines how nonviolent grassroots networks transform insecurity.

Trinsec is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) under its Transforming Social Science programme, which promotes ‘genuinely transformative research at the frontiers of social science’. The project is exploring three existing grassroots networks: 1) the global movement against sexual harassment of women in public spaces, 2) unarmed neighbourhood-watch programmes to prevent terrorist attacks in Somalia; and 3) the global movement of casualty recording by citizens. Dr Herring’s talk mainly focused on how diverse, nonviolent grassroots networks worldwide can be scaled up and integrated across issues to transform various dimensions of insecurity.

The project team recently conducted fieldwork in the self-declared republic of Somaliland investigating the unarmed neighbourhood-watch schemes which are working to prevent suicide-bomb attacks. These attacks first began in Hargeisa in 2008 and have spread to other parts of the country. The locals realized that suicide bombers are mostly non-local and therefore various neighbourhood-watch groups were formed to monitor any suspicious activities of outsiders. The information gathered was passed to local police officers and numerous potential suicide bombers were arrested. The unarmed neighbourhood-watch scheme has been so effective that these neighbourhoods have been free from terrorist attacks since 2008. The team engaged with these neighbourhood-watch groups in three different regions of the country.

Dr Herring’s talk demonstrated how these grassroots networks contribute to fight events such as terrorist attacks which cause global insecurities. The presentation was followed by a Q&A session, which gave the audience the opportunity to inquire about the depth and breadth of the project’s grassroots dimensions.