Paramilitary groups are a double-edged sword: while many serve with state authority to protect civilians against terror, resistance, and criminality, others prey on the population while engaging in criminal enterprise and destabilizing local communities. The Malawi Young Pioneers (MYP) are a lesser-known case of state sanctioned paramilitaries engaging in dual purposes: promotion of civics and national development with agriculture as the foundation of national and individual prosperity, while simultaneously building covert surveillance and paramilitary wings to counter political enemies and national crisis. Utilizing exclusive government archives and field interviews I trace the evolution of the MYP from 1963-94, offering testable hypotheses for further fieldwork and application to a broader range of case studies on the behavior of paramilitary groups.
“Spies in the Maize: Control and Discipline in the Malawi Young Pioneers,” paper presented at the International Studies Security Section/International Security and Arms Control joint conference, University of Notre Dame. November 2016.