Accepted Paper:

A truly secure space: knowledge, practice and subversion in security trainings  
Alexandra Schwell (University of Klagenfurt)

Paper short abstract:

The paper seeks to contribute to the anthropology of security by asking how knowledge about security is rendered natural and self-evident among state security experts through both formal and informal learning processes.

Paper long abstract:

The paper seeks to contribute to the anthropology of security by asking how knowledge about security is rendered natural and self-evident among state security experts through both formal and informal learning processes. Research on security agencies has shown that high-ranking officials in ministries, polices, and other security-related agencies are important agents within a "security field of experts" (Bigo 2000). They thus contribute to the construction and dissemination of knowledge and hegemonic "truth". Thereby they are important actors in shaping the "security meta-frame" (Bajc 2011) that is sustained through routine practices and discourses. Their knowledge and way of seeing the world results from their position and location within the wider field of security experts and their relation to other players in the field, but it also results from their agency's organizational culture into which they have been and continue to be socialized through education, training and everyday practices. The paper will take a close look at how state agencies create a "knowledge space of security" in more ways than one. Drawing upon ethnographic research, I argue that trainings for security experts are a performative practice where agencies seek to enhance not only their experts' knowledge about security issues, but also use security-related trainings as a means for achieving different aims, such as cross-agency trust-building. The security experts in turn appropriate this "secure" space for practices of irony, joking and subversion.

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