EASA2016: Anthropological legacies and human futures

(P095)
Spaces of security [Anthropology of Security] [PACSA]
Location U6-25
Date and Start Time 21 July, 2016 at 09:00
Sessions 2

Convenors

  • Nils Zurawski (Universität Hamburg) email
  • Alexandra Schwell (Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt/Celovec) email
  • Silja Klepp (University of Bremen) email

Mail All Convenors

Discussant Nils Zurawski, Silja Klepp

Short Abstract

The aim of this panel is to examine ethnographic research on spaces of security, take stock, and prepare for a future in which anthropologists will explore shifting contexts and the production of evidence therein - the near-future of security and insecurity.

Long Abstract

Today, security discourses and practices are flourishing, transforming policies, institutions and everyday lives throughout the world. This panel is to bring greater theoretical precision to the growing body of anthropological scholarship on security. We will examine ethnographic research on spaces of security, take stock, and prepare for a future in which anthropologists will explore shifting contexts and the production of evidence therein - the near-future of (in)security. The panel seeks papers at two levels. Firstly, we aim to chart the multiple ways that (in)security manifests itself, looking for commonalities and differences, and arriving at a theoretical statement on anthropology's contributions to the study of security. Secondly, we aim to show the potential that exists among anthropologists to conceptually inform international debates and ethnographically illuminate the ramifications of (in)securitisation today. Anthropologists have engaged with everyday insecurities ethnographically, together with the often-violent intrusion of (para-)military forces, policing, surveillance and governmental control in the lives of research participants. Anthropologists are now attending to the proliferation of post-Cold War security practices and discourses, new techno-science and forms of expertise. This panel will offer a broad anthropological theorisation of security together with a rigorous focus on the spatial dimensions of contemporary (in)securitisation. We are also interested in power and its spatial dimensions, together with the local and transnational asymmetries that produce or deny agencies.

There will be a particular focus on "The legacies and futures of the European border regime" within the broad theme of spaces of security.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Re-conceptualizing security anthropologically: counterterrorism in the United States

Authors: Limor Samimian-Darash (Hebrew University)  email
Meg Stalcup (University of Ottawa)  email

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.

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.

A truly secure space: knowledge, practice and subversion in security trainings

Author: Alexandra Schwell (Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt/Celovec)  email

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.

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.

Community: exploring the nexus of space and security beyond territory

Author: Nadja Maurer (Hamburg Institute for Social Research)  email

Short Abstract

Beyond deepened segregation in the course of the Northern Irish peace process, the social space ‚community’ has been re-valorized. Local perspectives on security are governed by converging discourses of ‚peace’ and wider debates in Britain on the role of local ‚leaders’ for the provision of safety.

Long Abstract

The paper aims at dismantling the concept of security along two axes to make it useful in analyzing spatial organization: First, security is an ideational concept and it is manifested in concrete social expressions and actual social structures. Second, security is a very general concept which can be pinned down to collectively shared values and acitivities. Whereas spatial organization can be related to activities and world views on the one hand, and to institutions and social groups and networks on the other, it cannot be easily related to security as such. Space (that includes various forms of social ordering) is rather complex. Moreover, space as a constituting dimension of security does not coincide phenomenologically to local issues such as fear of crime, perceptions of threat, sectarianism and others. I aim to scrutinize spatial organization through the lens of security as an ordering schema. Uncoupling implicit notions of territory and security in two marginalized northern Irish communities first, I then focus on the ubiquitous notion of community as a means of the production of un/safe space.

Encounters with secrecy when studying security

Authors: Erella Grassiani (University of Amsterdam)  email
Tessa Diphoorn (Utrecht University)  email

Short Abstract

In this paper we aim to explore the role of secrecy when studying powerful actors working in 'security'. Through an exploration of our fieldwork experiences we aim to provide further insight into methodological issues surrounding security, secrecy, and researching covert and sensitive topics.

Long Abstract

Many of our informants don't tell us the whole truth and often they are pretty straightforward about it. Their work is 'secret', 'sensitive', and too important to be made available to the curious anthropologist. During our ethnographic fieldwork on (private) security in Israel and Kenya, we were regularly confronted with such informants who performed secretive behaviour with regards to sharing data and their knowledge of security issues. While the last decade has seen an increase of anthropological studies on security, including topics as private security, military, gangs and security sector reform, which paid attention to an array of issues that could emerge when conducting ethnographic fieldwork on security, secrecy has not been fully explored within these works.

In this proposed paper, we aim to explore the role of secrecy in studying powerful actors within the 'world of security'. This entails looking at secrecy itself, at how secrecy influences the way data is represented to us by informants, how it affects the relationship between the researchers and researched, and how these various processes impact the way we interpret and analyse our data. Additionally, we ask how the role of secrecy influences the growing demand on anthropologists to make their data publicly available. How can we incorporate this demand of ethical standards and those we face in the field of security? Through an exploration of our fieldwork experiences in two different contexts, we aim to provide further insight into methodological issues surrounding security, secrecy, and researching covert and sensitive topics.

Security as distinction: emerging concerns of security among residents of gated communities in Cairo

Author: Wiebe Ruijtenberg (Radboud University Nijmegen)  email

Short Abstract

This paper explores the emerging concerns of security among residents of gated communities in Cairo to reveal the ways (in)security is produced and subsequently deployed as a discourse of distinction.

Long Abstract

This article contributes to recent anthropological work on security by exploring the emerging concerns of security among residents of gated communities in Cairo. Inspired by some of that work, it moves the analytical focus away from state actors and institutions to look at the security practices and discourses of ordinary (if upper class) Egyptians living in gated communities. This analytical shift reveals how feelings of insecurity are produced and reproduced through the experience of living behind walls, and the agentive ways in which gated community residents draw on their insecurities to erect even more physical and discursive boundaries. Through this boundary work, residents of gated communities in Cairo generate new patterns of mobility and new forms of sociability that work to reproduce the distinction between the secure gated community and the insecure outside world, and gated community residents as potential 'targets' and outsiders as potential 'perpetrators'. Drawing on seven months of ethnographic fieldwork, this paper thus expands the current anthropological understanding of security as a rationale behind emerging forms state governance, to include security as a central theme in vernacular practices and discourses that reproduce distinctions along lines of class, gender, race, and religion.

From "the refugee crisis" to dynamics of control and crisis of governability: inner-European border-management (where the (im)mobilities of migrants and of security actors meet)

Author: Monika Weissensteiner (University of Kent)  email

Short Abstract

While "the “refugee crisis”" is challenging the EU image of - and balance between - unity, prosperity, security and fundamental rights, this paper shifts the focus to internal border-management policy and control practices and explores an anthropological theorisation of these (in)security spaces.

Long Abstract

It has been argued that the construction of Europe as a space of "“Freedom, Security and Justice"” moved border-control from internal to external EU borders, operating within a governmental rationality of freedom of circulation. However, as emerges from the (im)mobility of refugees defined as “"irregular secondary movements”" inside the EU, bordering-practices have not been abolished, but reformulated in order to control – - at times with the objective to “confine” - certain people's mobility. Beside the eventful possibility of reintroducing temporarily systematic border-controls (art. 23 of the Schengen Borders Code), bordering practices are an ordinary and less eventful routine, carried out through a variety of (cross-border) "“compensatory measurements”". Controls have not been immobilized but acquired themselves mobility. Within the context of 2014-2015, the problem and possible solution was located not so much inside the EU asylum-and migration system, but within spaces and agencies of (in)security.

This paper draws on Foucault's reflection regarding the "“sifting the good and the bad“ when allowing circulations to take place and controlling them", and discusses the genealogy of policy concerning cross-border-police-cooperation and recent practices aimed at controlling "the “refugee crisis”". Drawing out some "“border/power struggles”", ultimately the paper aims to explore anthropological contributions on theoretical ground to security/crime/border-studies, thereby shifting the focus from the “"refugee crisis"” to control and crisis of governability within (in)security spaces.

Migration and processes of (in)securitisation

Author: Rosa Parisi (University of Foggia)  email

Short Abstract

Migration is characterized by the policies of rebordering. Started from the militarization of welcoming policies on the borders of the Balkan area and the multiplication of spaces of (in) security in Italy the aims is to investigate the flowering of new discourses on sicurity/insicurity

Long Abstract

Nowadays, migration is characterized by the extension of war and violence areas (departure countries and transit countries), by economic crisis, by discourse on terrorism and by the policies of rebordering, that in some case leads to build a material walls or fences between state boundaries. The constructon of walls become a real acts of war against poorest and indesirables migrants, that might call "war installation". The rebordering policies within the "Schengen land" leads to one side to transfer in the social the principal source of threat to the national state; a threat exemplified in the figure of the transnational migrant with a "dangerous" beckground. On the other side, to multiply the (in)security spaces where the risks of violence against migrants increase, especially against the most vulnerable and fragile subjects (unaccompanied minors, women, children). It produces a new geography of localized violence.

Started from a comparison between the militarization of welcoming policies on the borders of the Balkan area and the multiplication of spaces of (in) security in Italy directly controlled by the army as a result of '' terrorism emergency ", the aims of my talk is to investigate the flowering of new discourses on sicurity/insicurity, new mobility control policies. The militarized spaces through the use of police and army produce the perception of being under threat. The spatial dimensions of contemporary (in)securitisation it produce a new governamental control in everyday life which it extends from migrants to citizens.

Mobility, security and the politics of uncertainty

Author: Lior Volinz (University of Amsterdam)  email

Short Abstract

Can uncertainty can be strategically employed and adjusted by security actors? Using the case of security operations at checkpoints around Jerusalem, this paper analyzes how security produces differential(un)certainty of movement, (re)produce disorder, unpredictability and illegible governance.

Long Abstract

Security is commonly understood as the imposition of order and law- Public and Private security actors are expected to overcome risks and maintain stable grounds for economic, political and social exchanges. By keeping the streets safe and orderly, property protected, contracts enforceable and the roads devoid of crime and obstacles, security actors provide the necessary basics of a market economy. But what if security is instead directed to instil uncertainty, (re)produce disorder, unpredictability, illegible governance and ambiguous legalities?

Using the case study of security operations at the Israeli checkpoints in Jerusalem's environs, I propose that uncertainty can be strategically employed and adjusted by means of irregular operation, managerial obfuscation, lack of accountability and contradictory or oft-altered directives and regulatory framework. Under the banner of security provision, the possibility, reliability and predictability of residents' entrance and exit from the city serves to shape different patterns of (im)mobility, economic dependency and social and political fragmentation. Following extensive fieldwork, this paper uses data from participant observation at different checkpoint separating Jerusalem from the Occupied West Bank- those used by Israeli-Jewish settlers and those by Palestinians. The mobility of the former is facilitated by streamlined procedures which simulate the contiguity of Israeli-Jewish space; the latter's (im)mobility is constantly uncertain and determined by ever changing regulations, interchangeable public and private security personnel and continuously enhanced physical and technological security infrastructure. I contend that if governing through uncertainty is a modality of security, a through re-evaluation of the manifestations of security is in order.

On Roma camps as spaces of (in)security and the need for a politics of the anthropology of security

Author: Ana Nichita Ivasiuc (Justus Liebig University Giessen)  email

Short Abstract

The paper will expose what the anthropological analysis of the construction of Roma camps as spaces of (in)security can reveal about the discipline’s potential to enter in dialogue with the wider critical security studies, as well as why a politics of the anthropology of security is needed.

Long Abstract

In recent years, the camp, as space of containment and exclusion of undesirable immigrants, has been the target of theoretical interest and ethnographic attention. Locus of what Agamben saw as the grip of politics on 'bare life' and embodiment of contemporary 'securitarian neoliberalism', the camp is a rich location for ethnography and theorisation, but can also fruitfully be envisioned, with Feldman, in a 'nonlocal ethnography' of the current migration apparatus. In both cases, the camp is an (in)security space spanning the confluence of complex dynamics of (in)securitisation, constructed through anxiogenic discourses and security practices deployed by actors purporting to diminish insecurity.

In my paper, I will analyse the case of Roma camps in Rome which constitute spaces of (in)security at the nexus of discourses and routinised practices of (in)securitisation involving state (police, Carabinieri, policymakers), but also non-state actors (the Roma themselves, NGOs, neighbourhood committees, vigilante groups, social media networks). I will analyse the manifold intersections of security discourses and practices which, in various actors' utterances and routines, construct the camps as dangerous spaces, at the material level, but also as signifiers of wider social insecurities at the symbolic level. By underlining what such an ethnographic approach reveals about Roma camps as spaces of (in)security, I will illustrate how anthropology has the potential to inform academic debates beyond disciplinary boundaries. Finally, I will advance the necessity of articulating a politics of the anthropology of security whose primary aim would be to defamiliarise the naturalised and pervasive contemporary ideology of security.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.