Migration – Humanitarian or Security Issue?

The aim of this essay is to explore and discuss critical issues of human security with relevant application of the framework of securitization suggested by the Copenhagen School. Specifically, this essay will argue that since the end of the Cold War western governments have placed an emphasis on securitising the relocation and resettlement of victims of forced displacement. Furthermore this essay suggests, drawing on the ideas presented by Hammerstad (2010) and Suhrke, in Newman & van Selm (2003), that through the securitisation of the displaced persons from areas of conflict and political unrest Western governments have been able to justify further conflict and constructed a vacuum which has caused net migration of displaced persons to increase. This essay concludes that until forced displacement is treated as a humanitarian issue and not a security issue migration will continue to be a contentious issue within the global political sphere.

To effectively achieve this the essay will; establish an underlying framework from constructivist theory drawing on Wæver (1995), Neumann (2010) and McDonald (2011) of the Copenhagen School to apply to the human security issue of forced displacement and migration, analyse trends in the rate of displaced persons globally since the end of the Cold War as well as noticeable changes post-September 11, and finally, comparatively analyse the issue of securitisation of forced displacement and migration in a case study that explores the issue across Australia and Europe. Further to Hammerstad (2010), Suhrke (2003), Wæver (1995), Neumann (2010) and McDonald (2011) this essay will also be supported by key readings from Gleeson (2016), Klocker & Dunn (2003), Huysmans (2000) and others which will be cited appropriately throughout.

The twentieth century brought with it many advances in international relations theory as detailed security studies became prevalent on a global political stage post-Cold War. Though widely acknowledged by scholars to have been ambiguous by definition, as society progressed so too did the state centric focus of traditionalist security theory (Neumann 2010; Wilkinson 2007). At the centre of this revolution of socially aware theory the Copenhagen School proposed that any referent object can be securitised when facing an existential threat, from entire nations to smaller collective groups sharing a common identity, provided they hold a perceived value within their community (Wæver 1995; Wæver 2003; Wilkinson 2007).

This shift in focus saw the prioritisation and securitisation of specific individual issues and threats to national interests become more justifiable as genuine security threats where this may have not been the case previously. Williams (2013, p.72) asserts that this approach in the context of post-Cold War International Relations encourages the broadening of security to include any manner of pressing and hitherto neglected concerns such as poverty, climate change, and, most relevant to this piece human rights. This specificity builds on the underlying principles of social constructivism which, while encouraging the inclusion of ideas, culture, identity and interaction in international relations (Agius 2016, p. 71), has strong opposition from Rationalist theorists who claim that it cannot be observed empirically (Agius 2016, p. 84). In the context of this essay’s subject matter, the securitisation of displaced persons, the interpretation of the Copenhagen School’s approaches is in line with Hammerstad (2010, p. 241) who states that the process of securitisation in this respect is a hermeneutical circle in which, “the way we talk about a phenomenon helps shape how we react to it… our actions and their consequences in turn help shape how we discuss the phenomenon”.

Based on this understanding of the Copenhagen School and the social constructivist theories, and the subjectivity of their application. Suhrke (2003, pp.97-98) offers perspective from the other side of the argument recognising legitimate occurrences where the relocation of asylum seekers may be legitimately securitised for fear of the speed or volume of migratory persons entering a new country. This is recognised, however, as having more to do with a nation’s infrastructure and ability to cope with resettlement of the migrant populations and not their willingness to abide recognising that the societies that formed the backdrop of the Copenhagen School’s explorations were strong industrialised states. This interpretation of Suhrke’s is vital to appreciating the securitisation of forced displaced persons through the remainder of this essay as it is these same strong and stable industrialised nations currently looking for alternatives to helping with the currently high levels of displaced persons globally.

 Since the end of the Cold War, and more recently the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001, heightened levels of international conflict have seen the total number of displaced persons globally rise to an estimated 65.5 million as of 2018 (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 2018). The gravity of this most recent figure can be better appreciated where Odhiambo-Abuya (2003, P. 237) shows that the United Nations High Commisioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported the total number of displaced persons at the end of 2001 was an estimated 5 million, a figure which has increased more than thirteen times. While the UNHCR figures account for both internal, those who are still living within their native countries borders but forced away from their native home, and external displacement the two are not mutually exclusive as both cases are brought about as a result of conflict or civil unrest which, in a modern geopolitical sphere, can be considered threats to international security which should be addressed as the obligation of each country who is in a position to assist (Ayoob 2010, p.81).

Odhiambo-Abuya (2003, p. 236) recognises this as being caused by many modern conflicts being typified by non-state actors such as terrorist groups or militias, as opposed to tradition state versus state conflict, though as can be seen by the United States and Allied Forces ‘War on Terror’ these traditional conflicts still play a part. Further to this Internal Displacement is often an afterthought of the international community who feel it is the obligation of local governments to provide for their people (Cohen 2001, para. 6) and as such intervention may not come from outside forces until such a time that conflict is unavoidable, as has been the case in the Middle East, which in turn causes a shift in migration as civilians seek to flee the violence. A contemporary example of this can be seen with through the mass-migration of Afghan and Iraqi refugees to Australia in late 2001, following the events of September 11, when international intervention was made into already ongoing conflict.

The securitisation of displaced persons, particularly refugees, in Australia since the turn of the twenty-first century has been characterised by the narrative of the “boat people” (Bolger 2016, p.13; O’Doherty & Lecouteur 2007, p. 1) and the perceived threat that they pose to the Australian people and their way of life. For a country which regards itself as one of social and cultural progression (Hancock 2017, para. 17; Social Progress Index 2017) Australia’s approach to the resettlement of migrants throughout this period and into the current day has been polarising in international political discourse (Australian Institute for Progress 2015, p. 3; Crowe 2016, para. 1). The Pacific Solution legislation which passed through parliament on September 21st 2001 (Commonwealth of Australia 2002, p. 291; Phillips 2012, para. 2) in the wake of the Tampa affair, which saw a Norwegian freighter rescue a sinking boat carrying refugees (Klocker & Dunn 2003, p. 73; Commonwealth of Australia 2002, p. 1), the securitisation of displaced persons in Australia had begun. The public were desensitized to the influx of refugees fleeing conflict in the Middle East and the legislation saw the use of smaller pacific islands, notably Papua New Guinea and Nauru, as well as the Australian territory of Christmas Island used to detain asylum seekers until they were eligible for on shore settlement, processing  or return to their country of origin (Karlsen 2016; Refugee Council of Australia 2016, para. 1).

The then Howard government set about systematically demonizing legitimately displaced persons as a threat to Australia and eventually, in October 2001, would publicise allegations that refugees had intentionally thrown children off of boats in an attempt to force a rescue and settlement in Australia (Head 2004, para. 3; McGrath 2004). These allegations were later investigated and found to be falsified and used to wilfully mislead the Australian public (Commonwealth of Australia 2002, p. xiv) but not before the general perception of displaced persons in Australia had become one of severe negative connotations. A study published in the Australian Journal of Psychology found that more than half (59.8%) of individuals surveyed held negative attitudes towards refugees on a set of data collected in 2002, twelve months after the aforementioned Tampa affair and Children Overboard incidents (Schweitzer, Perkoulidis, Krome, Ludlow and Ryan 2005, pp. 17-18).

Over the years that closed out the decade, and in subsequent elections, immigration policy remained one of the top priorities in Australian mainstream politics, with election campaigns built by both major parties on the securitisation of asylum seekers (McDonald 2011). By 2011, despite a decrease in the overall number of migrations to Australia, the securitisation of the issue meant more than half of people surveyed felt that immigration numbers were increasing (Wilkie 2011, para. 7).  By engaging the Australian public with this perceived security threat, with Government ministers even going as far as to claim ‘an undeniable link between illegal immigrants and terrorism’ (Klocker & Dunn 2003, p. 71), the Australian government was able to justify its involvement in international conflicts in the Middle East as an allied partner of the United States and the ‘War on Terror’ (Aslan 2009, p. 112; Gleeson 2016, p. 85).

In committing themselves to this conflict and the escalating violence in the Middle East the Australian government was in effect contributing to the creation of further forced displacement and following a vicious circle in which they were assisting in creating the very asylum seekers that they were then refusing entry into their country. Humanitarian groups, including the Refugee Council of Australia and the UNHCR, raised concerns with the validity and legality of the Australian approach to immigration policy (Archbold 2015, pp. 137-158; Bhuiyan & Islam 2013, p.33) not only for the immediate impact it had on the displaced persons seeking refuge but also on the precedent and example it set for other western countries, particularly in Europe where the issue was also coming to prominence, to go against a moral obligation to lend aid where possible.

Similarly to Australia the intake of forced displaced persons has been seen to fluctuate generationally, peaking around times of great political instability and conflict. As this has been the case this essay focuses specifically on recent developments since the end of the Cold War as the body of evidence would otherwise be too great to contain in a single discussion. Since the conclusion of the Cold War there has been an ongoing struggle for power across each of the three sectors of Europe. The Eastern bloc, characterised by ex-soviet states and borders into Asia and the Middle East, has existed in a state of near perpetual conflict since this time. The dismantling of Yugoslavia, unrest in the Balkans and war in Kosovo throughout the 1990’s saw millions of persons displaced within Europe itself (Cohen 2001, para. 3) while conflict continued from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan on Europe’s doorstep (Reuveny & Prakash 1999, pp. 693-708). As tensions in the West towards the Middle Eastern states of Iraq and Afghanistan escalated into war following September 11, 2001, there began an influx of displaced persons into mainland Europe. As the conflict moved through the Middle East and into Syria over the decade the mass-migration of displaced persons, refugees and asylum seekers reached its peak in the summer of 2015, when millions of Middle Eastern and African natives began travelling by land and across the Mediterranean sea  seeking admittance en masse in numbers not previously seen in Europe since the aftermath of the Nazi regime at the conclusion of the second world war.

The ‘European migrant crisis’ as it became known lead to the widespread securitisation of immigration as, in the wake of jihadist style terror attacks in France, Belgium and the United Kingdom, European governments and International intelligence agencies reported concerns that the crisis was being used by Islamic terrorist cells were smuggling trained jihadists amongst the genuine refugees with the explicit purpose of committing further acts of terror across Europe (Faiola & Mekhennet 2016; Reuters 2016). This securitisation lead to widespread fear across Europe and destabilised faith in the European Union, leading a resolute United Kingdom to vote to secede following a referendum where voters were promised full control over their borders and a stop to the relocation and integration of displaced persons into their country.

One of the key issues in the securitisation of migration in Europe is the blanket European Union (EU) regulations implemented via the Dublin Convention which creates a more restrictive and control oriented approach to the resettlement of asylum seekers (Huysmans 2000, p. 756). By enforcing a set guideline across the Union it becomes harder for member states to ignore their responsibility to aid in the humanitarian process of resettlement. As the European migrant crisis unfolded the issue became not the task of resettlement but with who the responsibility lied to undertake it. Ultimately the threat of action resulted, at least in the case of the United Kingdom, the member state feeling that the EU had too much power over the immigration policy of their country despite their active participation in the conflicts which had contributed to the crisis itself. In a 2017 report published by Chatham House public attitudes of United Kingdom citizens were found to default to negativity when asked about immigration with a strong link made between displaced persons and a threat to national security and sovereignty (Dempster & Hargrave 2017, p. 10). Similarly to the earlier case study focused on Australia this combination of public opinion combined with government securitisation of the minority group lead to widespread fear and vocal disapproval, in this case of both the displaced persons and of the European Union itself for seeking humanitarian assistance. 

While the situations are noticeably different between the two continents analysed in this papers case studies the approach to the securitisation of forced displaced persons in Australia and Europe share several key similarities. Most notably the securitisation of refugees as a threat to national sovereignty and individual security, an indifferent approach to their relocation with a predisposition to attempt to shift the burden onto other countries and, with respect to Hammerstad (2010, p. 241), the contributions of both Australia and the United Kingdom to the hermeneutical circle of conflict which aides in the creation of forced displacement. In the instances outlined in the case studies both shared in the public action of securitising Middle Eastern immigrants.

The handling of the Tampa affair and the children overboard issue, publically citing Middle Eastern refugees as potential terrorists, was much the same as in Europe where it was suggested that jihadists were being smuggled across the borders amongst those seeking legitimate humanitarian aid. The key difference between these two cases however is that the European concern was found to be legitimate with several arrests made as a result of joint operations through European Police (Faiola & Mekhennet 2016; Reuters 2016). This highlights the importance of using securitisation as a tool to assist in the development of the international narrative as stated by Suhrke (2003). In the European case study the United Kingdom’s approach to the Dublin Convention for managing the relocation and settlement of refugees can be seen as having direct parallels to Australia’s attempts to force the Norwegian government to take responsibility of the individuals that were rescued during the Tampa affair (Klocker & Dunn 2003; Commonwealth of Australia 2002). When this approach was unsuccessful the Australian government then attempted to return those individuals to their point of origin in Indonesia which was also unsuccessful before eventually having no choice but to take them in for processing. Unlike the United Kingdom, who were bound by European law, Australia was not able to avoid their humanitarian responsibility under the United Nations charters both countries remained vocal in their desire to return migrants to their point of origin.

This aversion to fulfilling a humanitarian obligation under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights further demonstrates the separation that exists and is perpetuated by Western governments in the securitisation of migrants to take the safety to people rather than take the people to safety (Schmeidl 2003, p. 145). The third and final comparison in this critical analysis considers each of the points that have been raised throughout this paper and considers them with the application of Hammerstad’s (2010, p. 241) proposition of a cycle of conflict. Both Australian and European forces continue to be a presence in active conflicts around the world with the war in Syria and the Middle East continuing to threaten the lives and residency of millions. This state of affairs only deepens the potential for the refugee crisis to grow and further delays a timeframe in which resettlement for displaced persons to return to their native land, if at all possible. Until conflict can be resolved the situation will continue in a state of perpetual warfare and as such the displaced persons, refugees and asylum seekers will continue to exist without a national identity.

This paper has considered the current state of securitisation of migrants from a critical approach with the application of social constructivist theories from the Copenhagen School and demonstrated how the issue is escalated by the use of conflict as a means of resolution and dehumanising of the individual displaced persons. Throughout the exploration and discussion of human security in this essay a recurring theme, particularly in the two case studies, has been the securitisation of what is very much a humanitarian issue. Regardless of the progress that is made by international bodies in the quest for conflict resolution the displacement of people from affected countries will remain to be an issue long after the fact. This serves as a realisation that displacement and issues of human security must be treated as humanitarian issues and not security threats as this securitisation can only serve to continue perpetuating a divide between sovereign publics and those displaced who come seeking asylum. Without systemic change at an international level migration will continue to remain a contentious issue within the political sphere as illustrated in the Australian and European case studies. Ultimately it is the responsibility of international bodies to see displaced persons not as a burden of the state but simply as people who are doing their best to survive.

 

References

Agius, C 2016, ‘Chapter 7 Social constructivism’, in A Collins (ed.) 2016, Contemporary security studies, 4th edn, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 70-86

Archbold, L 2015, ‘Offshore processing of asylum seekers – is Australia complying with its international legal obligations?’, QUT Law Review, vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 137-158. 

Aslan, A 2009, Islamophobia in Australia, Agora Press, Sydney, Australia. 

Australian Institute for Progress 2015, Australian Attitudes to Immigration, ASN, AIP0315

Ayoob, M 2010, ’Humanitarian Intervention and State Sovereignty’, The International Journal of Human Rights, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 81-102.

Bhuiyan, J & Islam, R 2013, An introduction to international refugee law, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Boston.

Bolger, D 2016, ‘Race Politics: Australian Government Responses to Asylum Seekers and Refugees from White Australia to Tampa’, PhD thesis, Western Sydney University, Sydney.

Dempster, H & Hargrave, K 2017, ‘Understanding public attitudes towards refugees and migrants‘, Chatham House, viewed 12 February 2018, <https://euagenda.eu/upload/publications/untitled-92767-ea.pdf&gt; 

Cohen, R 2001, ‘Exodus Within Borders: The Growing Crisis of Internal Displacement’, Brookings.edu, viewed 12 February 2018, <https://www.brookings.edu/on-the-record/exodus-within-borders-the-growing-crisis-of-internal-displacement/&gt;

Commonwealth of Australia 2002, A Certain Maritime Incident, APH.gov.au, 23 October, viewed 12 February 2018, <https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Former_Committees/maritimeincident/report/index&gt; 

Crowe, D 2016, ‘Australia divided on migration as racism emerges’, The Australian, 24 August, viewed 12 February 2018, <https://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/immigration/australia-divided-on-migration-as-racism-emerges/news-story/1c101fecfcfa7288823ad5a3db4c4f05&gt; 

Faiola, A & Mekhennet, S 2016, ‘Tracing the path of four terrorists sent to Europe by the Islamic State’, Washington Post, 22 April, viewed 12 February 2018, <https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/how-europes-migrant-crisis-became-an-opportunity-for-isis/2016/04/21/ec8a7231-062d-4185-bb27-cc7295d35415_story.html?utm_term=.73b712396924&gt; 

Gleeson, K 2016, Australia’s ‘war on terror’ Discourse, Routledge, New York.

Hammerstad, A 2010, ‘Chapter 10 UNHCR and the Securitization of Forced Migration’, in A Betts & G Loescher (ed.), Refugees in International Relations, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 237-260.

Hancock, E 2017, ‘The 25 most tolerant, progressive, and environmentally friendly countries in the world’, Business Insider, 6 January, viewed 12 February 2018, <http://uk.businessinsider.com/the-worlds-most-tolerant-progressive-and-eco-friendly-countries-2017-1/#25-namibia-namibia-comes-in-25th-on-our-list-taking-a-hit-on-basic-human-needs-and-access-to-education-in-the-social-progress-index-however-the-african-nation-performed-well-on-personal-rights-like-political-freedom-and-freedom-of-speech-1&gt;

Head, M 2004, ‘Australia: Howard’s 2001 election lies return to haunt him’, wsws.org, 25 August, viewed 12 February 2018, <https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2004/08/howa-a25.html&gt;

Huysmans, J 2000, ‘The European Union and the securitization of migration’, Journal of Common Market Studies, vol. 38, no. 5, pp. 751-777.

Karlsen, E 2016, ‘Australia’s offshore processing of asylum seekers in Naura and PNG: a quick guide to statistics and resources’, APH.gov.au, 19 December, viewed 12 February 2018, <https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp1617/Quick_Guides/Offshore&gt;

Klocker, N & Dunn, K 2003, ’Who’s driving the asylum debate? Newspaper and Government represntations of asylum seekers’, Media International Australia Incorporating Culture and Policy, no. 109, pp. 71-92.

McDonald, M 2011, ‘Deliberation and Resecuritization: Australia, Asylum-Seekers and the Normative Limits of the Copenhagen School’, Australian Journal of Political Science, vol. 46, no. 2, pp. 281-295.

McGrath, C 2004, ‘Mike Scrafton speaks live about children overboard affair’, The World Today, 16 August, viewed 12 February 2018, <http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2004/s1177463.htm&gt;

Neumann, I 2010, ‘Chapter 8 National security, culture and identity’, in M Dunn Cavelty & V Mauer (eds) 2010, The Routledge Handbook of Security Studies, Routledge, London, pp. 95-105.

O’Doherty, K & Lecouteur, A 2007, ‘“Asylum seekers”, “boat people” and “illegal immigrants”: Social categorisation in the media’, Australian Journal of Psychology, vol. 59, no. 1, pp. 1-12.

Odihaambo-Abuya, E 2003, ‘Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons: Examining Overlapping Institutional Mandates of the ICRC and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees’, Singapore Journal of International & Comparative Law, vol. 7, pp. 236-266.

Phillips, J 2012, ‘The ‘Pacific Solution’ revisited: a statistical guide to the asylum seeker caseloads on Nauru and Manus Island’, APH.gov.au, 4 September, viewed 12 February 2018, <https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/BN/2012-2013/PacificSolution&gt;

Refugee Council of Australia 2016, ‘Australia’s offshore processing regime’, RefugeeCouncil.org, 24 June, viewed 12 February 2018, <https://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/getfacts/seekingsafety/asylum/offshore-processing/briefing/&gt;

Reuters 2016, ‘German spy agency says ISIS sending fighters disguised as refugees’, Reuters, 5 February, viewed 12 February 2018, < https://www.reuters.com/article/us-germany-security/german-spy-agency-says-isis-sending-fighters-disguised-as-refugees-idUSKCN0VE0XL&gt;

Reuveny, R & Prakash, A, ‘The Afghanistan war and the breakdown of the Soviet Union’, Review of International Studies, vol. 25, pp. 693-708.

Schmeidl, S 2003, ‘The Early Warning of Forced Migration: State or Human Security?’, in E Newman & J van Selm (ed.) 2003, Refugees and forced displacement: International security, human vulnerability, and the state, United Nations University Press, Tokyo, pp. 130-155.

Schweitzer, R, Perkoulidis, S, Krome, S & Ludlow, C 2005, ‘Attitudes towards Refugees: The Dark Side of Prejudice in Australia’, Australian Journal of Psychology, vol. 57, no. 3, pp. 170-179.

Social Progress Index 2017, ‘2017 Social Progress Index’, Social Progress Index, viewed 12 February 2018, <http://www.socialprogressindex.com/results&gt;

Suhrke, A 2003, ‘Chapter 5 Human security and the protection of refugees’, in E Newman & J van Selm (ed.) 2003, Refugees and forced displacement: International security, human vulnerability, and the state, United Nations University Press, Tokyo, pp. 93-108. 

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 2018, ‘Figures at a Glance’, UNHCR.org, viewed 12 February, <http://www.unhcr.org/en-ie/figures-at-a-glance.html&gt; 

Wæver, O 1995, ‘Chapter 3 Securitization and desecuritization’, in R Lipschutz (ed.) 1995, On security, Columbia University Press, New York, pp. 46-86.

Wæver, O 2003, ‘Securitisation: Taking stock of a research programme in Security Studies’, viewed 12 February 2018, <https://www.clisec.uni-hamburg.de/en/pdf/data/waever-2003-securitisation-taking-stock-of-a-research-programme-in-security-studies.pdf&gt;

Wilkie, B 2011, ‘What do we really think about immigrants?’, ABC.net.au, 10 October, viewed 12 February 2018, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-10-10/wilkie-what-do-we-really-think-about-immigrants/3459274&gt;

Wilkinson, C 2007, ‘The Copenhagen School on Tour in Kyrgystan: Is Securitization Theory Useable Outside Europe?’ Security Dialogue, vol. 38, no. 1, pp. 5-25.

Williams, PD (ed.) 2013, Security Studies: An Introduction, 2nd edn, Routledge, London.

Advertisements

Public Relations: Saving the Oldest Olympic Sport

Background 

In Strategic Sport Marketing (Shilbury, Westerbeek, Quick, Funk and Karg 2014) the authors present a case study which centres on the removal of amateur wrestling as a sport from the Olympic games. In this case study the authors suggest that the eventual survival of wrestling as a sport, in whole or in part, was due to the intervention of professional wrestling company TNA wrestling. This response considers a number of factors in determining whether the campaign was a success and, further to the authors proposition, what influence TNA wrestling had in the final outcome.

Response

In order to determine the success of this campaign the first requirement is defining what is success and, from this, determining what influence the TNA wrestling campaign had on achieving this outcome. Success in this case would see wrestling returned to the Olympics – a feat which occurred on September 8th, 2013 (BBC 2013). But what influence over this did the TNA public relations campaign have? While the quote in the Case Study (Shilbury, Westerbeek, Quick, Funk & Karg 2014, p. 318) identified Kurt Angle, and his then employer TNA, it also identified the International Wrestling Federation (FILA) – the world sanctioning body under which Angle won his two gold medals – who’s members also made up the international collective Committee for the Preservation of Olympic Wrestling (CPOW) (Smith 2016). Following the announcement to remove Wrestling by the IOC the standing president of FILA was removed following a vote of no confidence and, as suggested by other members of the FILA board, part of the removal of the sport was because of his dealings with the IOC (Smith 2016). This structural change allowed the FILA board to develop new ideas and present the sport to the IOC in a new light.

Around the globe national wrestling bodies were coming together in a show of unity, putting on events like the Rumble on the Rails at New York’s Grand Central Terminal (Raskin 2013). During this campaign Kurt Angle was a vocal participant, appearing and speaking out on behalf of the sport however, besides from being introduced as “TNA wrestling’s” Kurt Angle, there was little involvement from the company themselves. As a company with a history of poor management and PR (Murray 2016) – including most recently their failed attempt to have fans name an owl (Rueter 2017) – this seems to be another case of TNA (now Global Force Wrestling) trying to cash in on someone else’s hard work (Konuwa 2017). This evidence then suggests that the TNA public relations campaign had a minimal effect on Wrestling remaining an Olympic event beyond having an employee who happened to be a part of the CPOW. As for that committee, as seen in the evidence provided, the PR campaign they ran was a much more contributing factor to the success of the sports reinstatement.

 

References

BBC 2013, Olympics 2020: Wrestling reinstated to Games, BBC.com, 8 September, viewed 11 September 2017, <http://www.bbc.com/sport/olympics/24009517&gt;

Konuwa, A 2017, ‘Matt Hardy Vs. Impact Wrestling: Who Owns The Broken Universe?’, Forbes, 13 March, viewed 11 September 2017, < https://www.forbes.com/sites/alfredkonuwa/2017/03/13/matt-hardy-vs-impact-wrestling-who-owns-the-broken-universe/#78d648073d92>

Murray, A 2016, 10 Ways TNA Totally Screwed Themselves Over,  WhatCulture.com, 20 October, viewed 11 September 2017, < http://whatculture.com/wwe/10-ways-tna-totally-screwed-themselves-over&gt;

Raskin, L 2013, Rumble on the Rails: USA, Russia, and Iran Embrace Each Other, creativetimereports.org, 20 May, viewed 11 September 2017, <http://creativetimereports.org/2013/05/20/rumble-on-the-rails-usa-russia-and-iran-olympic-wrestling/&gt;

Rueter, S 2017, Let’s help name TNA’s owl mascot, cagesideseats.com, 11 March, viewed 11 September 2017, <https://www.cagesideseats.com/tna/2017/3/11/14893964/name-tna-impact-anthem-owl-mascot>

Smith, S 2016, Grappling with the future: The story of how Olympic wrestling was saved, NBCOlympics.com, 18 August, viewed 11 September 2017, < http://www.nbcolympics.com/news/grappling-future-oral-history-how-olympic-wrestling-was-saved&gt;

Shilbury, D, Westerbeek, H, Quick, S, Funk, D & Karg, H 2014, Strategic sport marketing, 4th ednAllen & Unwin, Crows Nest.

From the Archive: Professional Wrestling for Amateurs – The Final Countdown

Exams are over! Holidays have started! What a time to be alive! And so as things return to normal it seems only fitting, on the theme of closure, that we bask in the final piece of the 6 part series from the archive! I feel like there should be some Green Day playing in the background – in fact, as a last hurrah to the Professional Wrestling for Amateurs series  press play on this and try not to tear up too much as we say goodbye.

Before we do that though lets go back together – yes I am coming with you this time – and take a look at what the whole point of this blog series was all about. Part one gave a detailed account of what it’s like to live as a fan of professional wrestling, the social stigma involved, and the sly comments and subtle digs you have to put up with on a regular basis (see recurring comment; “You do know that’s fake, right?”). From here we moved into Part two where we looked more at the physical side of things – using Mick Foley’s best selling book “Have A Nice Day” as a point of call, not only for evidence, but also as the point where I truly fell in love with the sport as a young child.

As May was world mental health month it seemed fitting that in Part three we touched on some of the confronting mental situations that workers in the industry are faced with regularly – most of which are overlooked by those of you who fail to see past the character into the person underneath. To get a better understanding of this we went out and got some first hand insight from someone who actually gets in the ring with Part four, which is still our most successful part to date, which was a sit down interview with O’Shay Edwards – who is easily my new favourite wrestler (and should be yours too) as he is taking the world by storm. Finally, in Part five, we looked at the growing sub-culture that has developed from the wrestling industry. The common themes that bring people together through wrestlers crossing the threshold within the mediasphere to becoming actors, wrestling approved and associated music, or just the overall sense of camaraderie that is shared between members of the broader wrestling community.

All of these topics were outlined and decided upon as, to date, there was no easily found and up to date source with similar information. The aim was to act as an educational tool for those who didn’t know – or as a point of reference for those who did – and as the series has unfolded I feel like I have legitimised everything that I set out to achieve. Hopefully you feel the same and, even if it is only a small titbit, something that I have said will remain with you long after you finish reading these words.

What started as an ambitious attempt to watch wrestling and pass it off as study when questioned by the wife has now turned into a nifty little blog that I have become more and more attached to and proud of as time goes on. For this reason – while this six part series is done – I will be sticking around to continue enlightening you with more of my quality insight which I am sure you are all growing to love (if you aren’t please try harder) and I look forward to looking back at this project as a collection of wrestling knowledge for everyone to enjoy for years to come.

Thank you for reading.


This piece was originally published on June 4th 2016 at http://botchworldorder.wordpress.com

From the Archive: Professional Wrestling for Amateurs – What, Culture?

Another week of preparing for the end of term has left me short on time – luckily there is still more to go back to from this original series on the misunderstood art of professional wrestling.  Previously we sat down with an actual, real life, wrestling machine – O’Shay Edwards – for a look at the life of a wrestler as well as touching on the physical and mental commitments and sacrifices that are made by performers. If you haven’t had a chance to read those earlier parts I would strongly recommend them as they are each a literary delight before tackling part 5 of this gripping tale of intrigue and romance.

So far the majority of this series has been looking at things from a wrestlers perspective and trying to break it down for better insight. What has been overlooked, and what will be touched on now, is the way in which the wrestling industry has influenced a sort of sub-culture in the modern world. A place where, thanks to social media, wrestling fans and pundits alike come to pay tribute to the sport they love in many different ways.

As the popularity of wrestling grew through the late 90’s it reached cult status, establishing the careers of many modern day film actors, most notable the likes of The Rock and John Cena. But it wasn’t always wrestlers becoming actors. In fact in 2000 Actor David Arquette became the WCW World Champion in what can only be described as a piece of sheer booking genius from then head booker Vince Russo – the man famous for making everything infinitely better by putting it on a pole.

It was around this time that wrestling and music also began to go hand in hand. Yes, I know Cyndi Lauper was at the first Wrestlemania, but this is more than that – and no I’m not talking about the Macho Man’s foray into rap either (which is pure brilliance if you haven’t already heard it). The surge in popularity of hard rock/post-grunge/nu-metal music saw bands that would not normally get the time of day thrust into the spotlight and if you were to quiz most modern day wrestling fans on the likes of Cold, Drowning Pool and Limp Bizkit they would be able to tell you that in 2002 they were all close personal friends of Tazz.

Moving away from the main stream influence in modern pop-culture professional wrestling has also created a brilliant and beautiful virtual world – sometimes even more misunderstood than wrestling itself. “eFedding”, another term for online roleplaying games based around the sport of professional wrestling, has grown massively as a hobby over the last 20 years from chains of emails, to MSN message boards and into the present day with social media (there are entire rosters worth of characters constantly tearing into one another on Twitter). The attention to detail shown by some roleplayers, or “fedders”, is immense and there are often people outside of the hobbies inner sanctum who mistake them for real people. A more in depth analysis of this subculture can be found here in the essay An Exploration of Social Gaming.

All of these things, be it films, music or games, bring millions of people together every day and unite them with one common trait; a love of wrestling. Whether it is loved or hated the wrestling industry as a whole is a global phenomenon – second only to sports like football (soccer for you Americans) and boxing for global popularity and viewership – and deserves to be treated with the same respect.


This piece was originally published on May 31st 2016 at http://botchworldorder.wordpress.com

From the Archive: Professional Wrestling for Amateurs – The View From Inside

And then there were three! Past the halfway mark and ready to go again with another insightful and informative look at the world of professional wrestling. So far in this series we have identified some of the physical and mental challenges faced by the men and women who go out night after night in bars, clubs, halls and arenas worldwide to put on a show as well as some of the stigma that is associated with being a wrestling fan. As always if you have missed any of the previous three parts we will take a moment now to wait for you to go back, catch up and make sure you know what you are getting yourself into.

In part 4 (that’s this one) we are going to be looking at some of what life as a wrestler is all about – courtesy of an exclusive interview with American Premier Wrestling’s O’Shay Edwards – and go over some of the points that we have touched on already with someone who has experienced them first hand.

How long have you been wrestling and how long did you train before you debuted?

I have been training since February of 2016 with my first show coming in April.

Whereabouts can we find you working in the ring?

I’m currently being booked for American Premier Wrestling, which has produced its first NXT product (Macey Estrella) and I’m currently in talks with LaGrange Championship Wrestling to start working for them too. I’m excited to see what happens.

How often do you train now – both in ring and general fitness?

It depends on how often I can actually get in the ring. If I can get in the ring 2 times a week I’m usually in the gym one day a week. If I can get into the ring 1 time a week I’m in the gym 2 times a week. What if I can’t get there anytime that week? Then I usually spend 3 days out of the week in the gym.

Do you use your own name, or a character/gimmick name, and if so does your character differ much from your real self?

No, I don’t use my own name. My gimmick name kinda happened on the fly but personality wise I don’t differ much. Its just myself ramped up to a 1000%.

 

What’s the biggest crowd you’ve worked for? Likewise, what’s the smallest crowd you’ve worked for?

The smallest crowd was about 50 or 60 people. The largest crowd so far has been a little over 200. The goal is one day to wrestle in front of a thousand plus people.

Furthest you’ve travelled for a show?

The farthest ever was about 3 hours from Atlanta to Statesboro Georgia.

Do you have a favourite opponent?

So far my favorite match has been wrestling against Iron Man.

Have you taken any bad bumps or botches that have legitimately hurt you, serious injuries etc?

Ironically enough while wrestling Iron Man I took a punch and it landed right above my right eye. It busted open and I bled all over place but we had the match of the night.

Finally, what do you do when you’re not wrestling?

I’m a full-time Firefighter in Atlanta.

We would like to sincerely thank O’Shay for taking the time to talk to us and answer our questions. Be sure to check him out, and the rest of APW, if you are in Georgia and you have the chance.

Hopefully this interview has given you some good insights into the life of a professional wrestler and will serve as a reminder that you should always be respectful to the talent – regardless of whether you may like the character or not – because, in this case at least, if you live around Atlanta a few boos and a nasty tweet could see your cat stuck up that tree for a little bit longer.


This piece was originally published on May 16th 2016 at http://botchworldorder.wordpress.com

From the Archive: Professional Wrestling for Amateurs – The Hard Road

Who would’ve thought that we would be back here again, eager as beavers for part 3 of our wrestling extravaganza? Well, I would’ve (because I’m contractually obligated to be here) but you are here of your own volition and I must say that is very much appreciated.

In case you new to the blog, and this series in particular, previously in parts one and two we have touched on the stigma that is sometimes associated with the professional wrestling community as a whole and the physical side of the business that is often discredited as being fake – but what about the mental challenges that are faced by male and female wrestlers all over the world.

Right now, as you read these words, there are literally thousands of professional wrestlers around the globe waking up or going to sleep in a cheap motel somewhere, thousands of miles away from their families. Ordinary people, who like the other 99% have a job that they get out of bed for – the only difference being that they don’t have the luxury of sitting behind a desk for eight hours and then clocking out and going home to the wife and kids, sitting around the table for a decent home cooked meal and hearing about how little Timmy’s football match went. Birthdays, Anniversaries, Dance Recitals, Dentists appointments, so many different activities – seemingly ordinary to the rest of us – are missed because they have to work a schedule as mentally gruelling as it is physical.

Now, and I can already hear you saying it, they get paid stupid amounts of money to do that and to an extent I would agree. If we were talking about the guys and girls working the big contracts in the big companies to put on the big shows it cannot be denied that, while facing these challenges, they are duly rewarded. But what about the rest?

Like everything in life (and here’s where we digress into politics a little bit) wrestling is like capitalism. The people at the top get all of the money and the guys trying to climb up that pyramid – well let’s just say that they don’t quite get as much. Now to put this in perspective wrestling doesn’t really differ from any other sports; you wouldn’t pay Tom Brady the same money as a rookie kicker fresh out of college. It’s just the way of the world. The guys who generate the revenue and make the franchises are rewarded accordingly with big money deals – but it has to be noted that before they were the big money guys, they were the same ones who were sleeping in dives and clocking up hundreds of miles or catching a red eye flight to another country just to try and get their little suckle on the golden teat.

If we are to look at this objectively – the main reason they do it (as naïve as it may sound) is for the fans. Without the people turning up and paying in to watch them they could be the greatest wrestlers in the world – they still wouldn’t make it. Obviously there are other factors, personal motivation and competitive drive being big ones, but you would be hard pressed to find any man or woman around who would be motivated to succeed when they are spending their birthday away from their partner and children.

Sadly the overzealous outsider, or the casual fan, often overlooks these challenges. Turning on their TV and instead of seeing a person doing their job they see a character they don’t like. So instead of appreciating that person’s hard work they throw a brick at their screen, refuse to watch until something is done about them and tweet them death threats. It’s this kind of abhorrent, short sighted attitude that creates problems for other fans and wrestlers alike. It needs to be remembered that while you can buy in to kayfabe, the characters and their stories, off screen they are ordinary people just like the rest of us – and they should be treated with the same respect.


This piece was originally published on May 7th 2016 at http://botchworldorder.wordpress.com

 

From the Archive: Professional Wrestling for Amateurs – Back With a Vengeance

Here we stand back on the front line, trying to to make the world a better place by eradicating ignorance and informing the uninformed. In case you missed the first part in the series it would be my strong recommendation you go back and give it a look (and not just because I wrote it). Once you’ve done that meet us back here to regroup. It’s fine – we will wait.

Honestly, take your time.

Are you ready?

Excellent, now, to finish this anecdote we will have to go back to the year 2001. It was an eventful year for many reasons; the great Sir Donald Bradman passed away aged 92, the Socceroos claimed third place at the Confederations Cup beating both France and Brazil and, most importantly, 10 year old me was taken into a Dymocks bookshop by his mother and told he could pick any book he wanted. I’m sure she was expecting me to come back with a stupid joke book or something similar – which was more of my style at the time – but not on this occasion. Instead something caught my eye on the bottom shelf on the farthest wall of the shop. After a little bit of persuading I left that book shop with my very own copy of Have A Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks – the 544 page epic story of legendary wrestler Mick Foley – and I never looked back.

This was the first real insight I had into the world of wrestling and I fell in love with it instantly. The raw emotion in Foley’s words and twisted humour that he worked into his stories made it a more than memorable experience from start to finish and I still remember carrying it around with me, recounting passages to anyone who would listen. To this day I still have the same copy, though the last 15 years has left it seeing better days. Foley’s insightfully graphic accounts of the injuries he suffered, from the famous ear incident with Vader, to the infamous Hell in a Cell match with The Undertaker (most of which Mick himself didn’t remember – unsurprisingly) it showed a young wrestling fan how much punishment these competitors put themselves through and how hard they worked to get to where they were. One particular passage that stuck with me was when Foley went to see a doctor about a scan on his back – the doctor told him what he had to and asked if he had any questions – to which Foley replied he was worried about the colour of one of his discs. It was white, while all of the others were grey. The doctor explained that they were supposed to be white and that the grey colouring was from the constant physical toll that wrestling was taking on his body.

How does this finish off the anecdote from Part One? I’m glad you asked. This is one of the many stories that I used to explain my love for the wrestling industry and to justify the risks that these men and women take on a nightly basis. Some people struggle to appreciate the lengths that competitors go to – often wrestling multiple times a week – for nothing more than the entertainment of the fans and their own personal enjoyment. Professional wrestling may be a scripted story with a predetermined result but by no means can anyone say that what those men and women do is fake in any way.


This piece was originally published on May 7th 2016 at http://botchworldorder.wordpress.com

 

From the Archive: Professional Wrestling for Amateurs – An Introduction

Professional wrestling. Just the mention of those two little words can divide an entire room full of people. Whether it’s right down the middle or all against one nothing seems to divide opinion as much as wrestling. If you are out on the lash with a bunch of lads and someone says, “did you catch the fight last week?” chances are they are not talking about the Intercontinental Championship match on Monday Night Raw. The inspiration for this blog, and the series of posts that will follow in the Introduction to Wrestling series, was inspired by a situation much the same as this one.

Before I start I will go on the record as saying I do not watch as much wrestling as I probably should (or at least think that I should). I keep up to date mostly with dirt sheets and Twitter and I like to think I have my finger on the pulse – though I’m not going to pretend like I’ve heard of your favourite wrestler from the Independent circuit in Guam. The majority of my actual watching is done via the WWE Network, which essentially means I watch NXT once a week and the monthly Pay-Per-Views.

This is where our story begins.

It was sometime during the weeks leading up to Wrestlemania, a brisk Saturday evening, and a handful of friends had called around for drinks. I thought to myself, excellent, we could have a few cans and once the wrestling starts throw it on and have a bit of a laugh. Everything was going to plan; until 10 minutes before the show. Someone looks at me and goes, “Will we have a game of FIFA?” Ordinarily I would jump at the chance to have a few games of PlayStation with someone, especially a visitor in my own home (it would be rude not to), however on this particular occasion I said, “No, I want to watch the wrestling.”

Silence.

Everyone looked around, not really knowing what to say, as I tried to brush it off and get the show on the road. The show started – Roadblock for those of you playing along at home – and as the girls continued to talk amongst themselves, the last man standing (apart from myself) proceeded to grill me.

“Why do you watch this? You know it’s fake, right?”

“Isn’t it a bit gay watching oiled up guys pretend to fight in their underwear?”

“UFC is much better than this shite.”

These were just some of the comments that I remember from that conversation and, while I have been enduring jibes like this since I was about 9 years old, I just couldn’t help myself. I ended up going in to bat for wrestling and its fans everywhere – and that was when it hit me. Is it wrestling that is the problem or is it just a misunderstood art form that people outside of its warming glow don’t understand?

Which brings us here. It was this interaction, for the thousandth time, that was my inspiration to write this piece. Over the coming 5 weeks I intend to go over the wrestling industry in depth, not from the tunnel visioned stand point of a mark – replying angrily to comments on a Facebook post “IT’S STILL REAL TO ME DAMMIT!” – but from a rational and educational stand point. Giving insight and understanding with facts rather than opinions and, hopefully, creating something that will be able to help wrestling fans everywhere. Whether that is by expanding their own knowledge or giving them something to show to their non-wrestling friends the next time one of them says, “You do know that’s fake, right?”


This piece was originally published on May 1st 2016 at http://botchworldorder.wordpress.com