Black Spots: Insecurity from beyond the horizon

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science


Margaret G. Hermann


Terrorism, Globalization, Black Spots, Insecurity, Paraguay, Pakistan, Colombia, Organized crime

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies | International and Area Studies | International Relations


This dissertation focuses on Black Spots, parts of the world that are outside of effective governmental control and capable of breeding and exporting insecurity, yet remaining relatively off the radar of international attention. Such areas are likely to offer fertile environments for the operations of "global bads" in the forms of transnational organized criminal and terrorist groups. As such, Black Spots represent challenges to global security and stability, while threats generated within them often appear from beyond the horizon in faraway locations.

This dissertation is an exploratory study driven by the desire to expose in more detail the notion of Black Spots in order to provide the basis for more expanded study and categorization of those entities in the future. It is not about failed or fragile states, but about a distinct phenomenon on the international security stage. As such, this dissertation extracts potentially generalizable hypotheses regarding conditions leading to the creation of Black Spots, their sustainability, and their impact on international stability and security.

Research conducted for this dissertation examined five areas that are argued to represent Black Spots: one in Paraguay, one in Pakistan, and three in Colombia. Methods used to gather necessary data were composed of primary and secondary observations and included: (1) ethnographic research in Paraguay; (2) interviews conducted in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Italy, Paraguay, Poland, the United States, and Uruguay; and (3) press, documentary, and literature research.


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