Accepted Paper:

Re-conceptualizing security anthropologically: counterterrorism in the United States  
Limor Samimian-Darash (Hebrew University)Meg Stalcup (University of Ottawa)

Paper short abstract:

Presenting a genealogy for the anthropology of security, we identify four main approaches. We draw on these to analyze our study of counterterrorism in the US and argue that anthropology of security needs new concepts to capture the very heterogeneity of security objects, logics, and forms of action.

Paper long abstract:

In our study of U.S. counterterrorism programs, we found that anthropology needs a mode of analysis that considers security as a form distinct from insecurity, in order to capture the very heterogeneity of security objects, logics and forms of action. In this article, we first present a genealogy for the anthropology of security, and identify four main approaches to security: violence and State terror; military, militarization, and militarism; para-state securitization; and "security analytics." Security analytics moves away from studying security formations, and how much violence or insecurity they yield, to identifying security forms of action, whether or not they are part of the nation-state. Security analytics concerns itself with how these forms of action work and what types of security they produce. We then illustrate security analytics through our fieldwork on counterterrorism in the domains of law enforcement, biomedical research and homeland security. In each, we examine the forms of governmental security action through the lens of this new conceptual tool. The set of analytic distinctions that we propose as an aid to approaching empirical situations and the study of security is, on another level, a proposal for an approach to anthropology today. We do not expect that the distinctions that aid us will suffice for every situation. Rather, we submit that this work presents a set of specific insights about contemporary U.S. security, and an example of a new approach to anthropological problems.

Panel P095
Spaces of security [Anthropology of Security] [PACSA]