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Anthropology in the World

British Museum, London, UK; 8th - 10th June 2012


Anthropology and security studies

Location Studio
Date and Start Time 09 June, 2012 at 09:30


Giovanni Ercolani (Peace Operations Training Institute) email
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Short Abstract

This panel aims to explore ways to link the 'tools' provided by anthropological studies to the ones from security studies.

Long Abstract

The main aim of this panel is to explore ways to link the 'tools' provided by anthropological studies to the ones from security studies.

We live in a world in which 'complex insecurity' is the expression that best then others can describe the now a days explosive combination of fear-risk-threat-vulnerability-anxiety in which the world society is living. In this context the motivation of the panel is to construct a new framework in which both academic topics will complement each other and together will present a new way to contribute to the understanding of security in a critical sense. The idea is to use the concept of the Critical Security Theory developed by Ken Booth in his book "Critical Security Studies and World Politics" (Lynne Rienner Publishers, London, 2005, p. 268) and attach it to the epistemology provided by anthropological researches, with the aim to contribute to the idea of an emancipatory politics. Bringing together Anthropology and Security Studies (Critical Security Theory) can contribute to a better understanding of the world and the human condition, because "we can decide to study (security) in ways that replicate a world politics that does not work for countless millions of our fellow human beings; or we can decide to study in ways that seek to help to lift the strains of life-determining insecurity from the bodies and minds of people in real villages and cities, regions and states." (Booth, 2005:276)

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


Anthropological approach to the concept of security

Author: Fina Anton Hurtado (University of Murcia)  email

Short Abstract

Security is not just a strategy, but a need that results in a feeling from which people give meaning to each one of the actions that takes place both in the private and in the public fields, both individually and collectively. From this perspective, my contribution tries to analyze anthropologically how this concept relates with the modules of culture and so understand the current situation in complex societies.

Long Abstract

My contribution here is the relation of the concept of security, employing as base the classical model of the universal modules of culture.

As regards the techno-economic module, we find that scientific and technological advances are becoming more difficult to decode and that the speed they happen, places the individual at the known as cognitive deficit, this is, much information, but little knowledge. From the field of economics, leaves the person in a place of insecurity and instability.

The second module of culture is the institutional, which rules this need of the human species that is living in society. Our sociability is unfolded in three big levels. At the micro level, we situate the family, whose changes in the relations between its members are undeniable, what Bauman called the liquid love. At the meso level, we refer to the associations and to a series of number of organizations articulated to defend the interests of different groups which, in many cases, are losing legitimacy and representativeness. Finally, at the macro level we have coexisting, but without clear references, the nation-states and supranational organizations, whose profiles are quite unknown to most citizens.

The Ideal module concentrates the beliefs, values and norms that act as catalysts of meaning for the people who take them as a reference, but in today's complex societies, beliefs are diffuse, values are overshadowed by the hegemonic value of money and standards have dissociated, and in some cases opposed, legality and justice.

Consideration on anthropology and critical security studies in a globalized context

Author: Giovanni Ercolani (Peace Operations Training Institute)  email

Short Abstract

The paper aims to integrate anthropological methodologies with the contributions developed by the Critical Studies environment. Taking in consideration the NATO recent interventions, the research tries to produce a dynamic framework and a cosmopolitan outlook able to understand complex emergencies, and multiple stress zones, and their “crisis management” in a globalized context.

Long Abstract

The paper aims to integrate in a critical framework the contribution of Anthropologic methodologies with the approaches developed by the environment of Critical Security Studies. The study want to underline the necessity of a dynamic focus on the way conflicts, humanitarian interventions, and complex emergencies have been analysed, and conducted by NATO. If the external military interventions found their moral justifications in the idea of the construction of a "positive peace" in the territories disrupted by violent events, then the research want to ask the following question: now that the conflict has ended are we in a positive peace environment or a negative one? If the "bad" authority has been destroyed or replaced, what about the various local structures of power/violence? Are we still in front of a reproduction of a structural violence (and then a pre-intervention status quo situation) which provoked the conflict or the affected society now is free to reorganise itself? Then we need not only to focus on the territory of the crisis (anthropological contribution) but we have to enlarge our focus and consider that the local conflict (new war) has a map, a ramification outside its own territory. It is only combining the Anthropological lens with the Security Studies global vision that we can arrive to a more sophisticated, emancipatory analysis, and cosmopolitan outlook of the "multiple stress zones" and their "crisis management" in a globalized context.

Visual ethnographies, conflict and security

Author: Chris Farrands (Nottingham Trent University)  email

Short Abstract

How can visual sources help us understand and interpret security and insecurity? Are there specific methodological and practical problems in using visual sources, especially photography, in an understanding of security, securitisation and insecurity? If so, can those problems be addressed, drawing on the work of work on visual ethnography applied in other fields? The paper accepts that photography is an unreliable and easily manipulated source but nonetheless seeks to reject the sceptical claim that it has little value in building an interpretation of conflict and insecurity, drawing on the work of Pink and others, and building on the author's earlier work on Paul Ricoeur.

Long Abstract

Interpretations of security and securitisation have tended to draw heavily on written sources, including literature, travel writing, biography and poetry as well as official discourses of varied kinds. Typically, these methods involve versions of textual or discourse analysis and/or narrratology.This paper asks how we might extend, but also challenge, these more conventional ideas about security drawing on methods from visual ethnography. It asks whether and how the approach might need to adapt in dealing with visual sources, and questions whether photography in particular provides any kind of reliable source base, especially in the age of digital technologies and Photoshop manipulation. The paper recognises the valuable work of Pink and others in building the approach, and also draws extensively on Paul Ricoeur's core approach to textual analysis (and the author's previous work on Ricoeur), while proposing ways of addressing the more sceptical claim that photography is an unreliable source for the re-reading of security and violence. Cautiously approached, it argues, a visual ethnography approach to security can be a fruitful way of illuminating security dilemmas and the experience of insecurity.

The psychology of peacekeeping: one domain where political realism and critical security theory will meet

Author: Harvey Langholtz (The College of William and Mary)  email

Short Abstract

With personnel from 100 nations serving on peacekeeping missions, adherents of Political Realism and Critical Security Theory will come together from different psychological backgrounds and perspectives.

Long Abstract

When individuals from the western and non-western nations, the nations of the global north and the global south, the developed and developing nations meet at the United Nations or on UN peacekeeping missions, different psychological perspectives are brought to the table. Many from the developed western nations and the nations of the global north will bring with them an implicit or explicit adherence to the tenets of Political Realism, while others may be more open to the tenets of Critical Security Theory. This paper will examine at a practical level how these different perspectives come together either at the political level or on a peacekeeping mission, and what happens when they do.

"The revolution continues worldwide!": emancipatory politics in an age of global insecurity

Author: Danielle Moretti-Langholtz (College of William & Mary)  email

Short Abstract

This paper is an examination of the Occupy Wall Street Movement as a case study in emancipatory politics with a consideration of method and theory in anthropology and Critical Security Studies.

Long Abstract

Occupy Wall Street (OWS) claims to be a leaderless resistance movement that has spawned numerous demonstrations across the United States, Canada, and now the world. Yet the individuals behind OWS are skilled at using the Internet and social media to organize coordinated community action in an attempt to effect societal change. By tapping into widespread discontent associated with economic and world politics aspects of the OWS movement have been both embraced and rejected by political leaders and the press. Citing "security" as in issue, coordinated and violent crackdowns against OWS camps in cities throughout the United States, during the late fall of 2011, suggest the degree to which the movement is viewed as a national threat. This paper will explore the genesis of the movement through the lens of Critical Security Studies as well as examine the use of anthropological research methods—particularly those of Rapid Ethnographic Assessment—to study this dynamic social movement and what is portends for emancipatory politics.

Anthropology and conflicts

Author: Marco Ramazzotti (Churchill College, Cambridge)  email

Short Abstract

Review of the most important definitions of anthropology of conflict and of war, starting from the concepts of just and unjust wars. Definition of modern war and the modern possibilities of participating or refusing a war. Roles of anthropologists. International law and obligation to follow correct - legal orders. Need for new instruments for the analysis and conduct of wars.

Long Abstract

I intend to intervene in the debate on

1) the modern analysis of war by anthropologists (anthropology of conflits and wars)

2) the legitimacy of the use of anthropology in the conduct of wars (use of social and economic anthropology in analysing a war situation).

War and social attitudes to war have changed. While the distinction between just and unjust wars has been always present in Western cultures but limited to a State's evaluation of wars, nowadays peoples' reactions to wars are not limited to moral judgements but involve their acceptance of and participation in wars.

People can accept and refuse wars.

Soldiers can accept and refuse wars. Number of American servicemen refused involvement in the Vietnam war. Let's remember the European fighters who joined their contries' Resistences against the Fascist and Nazi oppression.

Anthropologists who refuse all wars do not recognize the difference between just and unjust wars.

War has changed. We live in a period of asimmetrical warfare. Do we analyse these asimmetrical wars with the same instruments as the simmetrical wars of the past? The difference in culture between the conventional armies and the unconventional ones require the understanding of different cultures and different war cultures: we need anthropology.

Anthropological methods in counter-trafficking activities: analysis of criminal networks and victim-oriented approach

Author: Desirée Pangerc (CIELS University Campus)  email

Short Abstract

This paper provides a brief overview from an anthropological perspective of one of the most globalized criminal phenomena: human trafficking. In particular, it concerns crime perception [Bauer, 2011], network analysis [Boissevain, 1974] of criminal groups, and victim-oriented crime prevention.

Long Abstract

Human trafficking is a global criminal phenomenon: combating it is a fundamental issue in the International Community agenda .

But why aren't all the implemented counter-trafficking activities sufficient to stop it?

Starting from the author's fieldwork experience in Bosnia and Herzegovina, this paper describes the anthropological methods employed to analyze this human rights violation and to fight it.

From the network analysis [Boissevain, 1974] of the criminal groups involved in this illegal market [Ziegler, 2000] to the differentiation of smuggled and trafficked persons fluxes [Pace, 2002], it shows the importance of qualitative approach in counter-trafficking activities and the strong limits of quantitative analysis [Savona and Stefanizzi, 2007].

It also focuses on the delicate question of the victim status from the psychological aspects to the legal ones [Goodey, 2004], relying on evidence from the victims and the social operators.

In conclusion, it demonstrates how important crime perception [Bauer, 2011] is in the Eastern Europe civil society and how it is fundamental in prevention activities, investigations and victim rehabilitation programs.

Linking security and anthropology studies: exploring a new security framework

Author: Jakob Thor Kristjansson (University of Iceland)  email

Short Abstract

The paper explores the similarities of security studies and anthropology studies. It is argued that ‘emancipated solution’ to security works at the individual and collective security level and, thus, fits in with the notion of anthropology to study humankind and human experience.

Long Abstract

The aim of the paper is to investigate if there are ways to link security and anthropology studies. The concept of security is a contested concept and has a different meaning for different people, regions and states. Included in the security debate are issues such as social security, environmental security, economic security, human security, gender security, migration, cultural security, cyber security and military security. Anthropologists, however, hesitate to assume that the concept of security is universal and globally shared. Anthropology is the study of humankind and explores human experience from human origins to contemporary forms of culture and social life. The author is a political scientist specialising in security. In this paper he uses security studies to explore potential similarities with anthropology studies. The school of 'Critical Security Studies' deals with the social construction of security, showing that change is possible because things are socially constituted. In this paper it is argued that 'emancipated solution' to security works at the individual and collective security level and, thus, fits in with the notion of anthropology to study humankind and human experience. Anthropological and Critical Security Studies both provide the knowledge, skills and the research tools, theories, methods, and analytical techniques to study people, cities, regions, states, the past, and shape the future.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

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