W021
Responses to insecurity: securitisation and its discontents

Convenors:
Oscar Salemink (University of Copenhagen)
Thomas Hylland Eriksen (University of Oslo)
Stream:
Workshops
Location:
Victoria LT
Start time:
19 September, 2006 at 11:30
Session slots:
3

Short abstract:

The workshop explores questions of agency in connection with the notion of (human) security, by looking at tensions between security, risk, freedom and stability against the backdrop of securitisation.

Long abstract:

In today's globalising world, one common political reaction to fragmentation and insecurity, as theorised by the Copenhagen School, is the so-called securitisation of threats to referent objects, which politicises conflict while stifling political debate. While the object of securitisation is often the political security of state institutions and the physical safety of its citizens, the subject (or agent) of security in such cases is the state. Citizens might experience the effects of state policies as a threat to their personal, family or community security. Hence, citizens do not always have the interest of the state in mind when they try to construe (discursively) and construct (in practice) forms of security in their own lives. In anthropology, this is reflected in the emergent scholarship on human security as multidimensional and vested in people and their forms of civil organisation. As the subject of security shifts from the state to people, the referent object may shift as well. While the notion of agency (understood by Sherry Ortner as the individual or collective use of resources for the pursuit of culturally constituted projects) helps us determine the subject of security, it is simultaneously complicating the picture, as security is by no means the only possible pursuit. Other projects might involve the exercise of freedom to choose, freedom from the shackles of family, community or tradition, and the taking of risks. <br/>In this workshop we wish to explore such questions of agency in connection with the notion of (human) security, by looking at the tensions between security and risk, between security and freedom, and security and stability against the backdrop of securitisation. We welcome papers that address either the tensions between security from above and from below, and/or tensions between security and its opposites (risk, insecurity, freedom).