Conference "Security and Empire. Mechanics of Securitization in Imperial Spaces"
Wednesday - Friday, March 16 - 18, 2016
Herder Institute for Historical Research on East Central Europe - Institute of the Leibniz Association, Gisonenweg 5-7, D-35037 Marburg
The relationship between colonies and imperial centres is inherently asymmetrical, despite this, however, the common goal of security tends - at times mutual, at times opposed - to be shared among various parts of empires. In order to reduce these threats, colonial states interfered in the life and structures of areas deemed as potential sources for harbouring existential security threats. Also "men on the spot" understood their security situation as fragile and feared challenges to their power, through acts such as rebellion or sabotage. Security questions in an imperial context often developed an international dimension - thoroughly cooperative - in both conflicts in contested areas but also in issues which expanded borders, such as issues of minorities in border regions or pandemics.
We intend to pursue, from a comparative imperial perspective, the connection between imperial rule, the "colonial situation" and the strive for security in the period between the mid-19th century and approximately 1930. The thematic concentration on concepts of security, perceptions of insecurities and courses of action developed in response to them will systematically embrace a basic element of colonial and imperial history for the first time. The objective of the conference is to investigate the various ways in which insecurities were perceived in their colonial contexts and their variance throughout history. The wide-reaching geographical comparison should allow similarities in imperial patterns of control to be seen. These patterns could help expose correlating concepts of security and security measures found within different empires, as well as helping to identify how these concepts were transferred.
At the conference the larger theme of security-discourse will be examined and expanded through the focus on imperial spaces. In this setting, imperial locations are understood through the defining characteristics of belonging to an empire and as areas in which a clearly identifiable security process and problematic solidified. For example, these spaces include penal colonies and prisons, meeting-points of subversive ambitions, contested border areas and frontiers, as well as means of transportation such as trains and ships. Likewise harbour cities are understood as hubs of exchange. By looking more intently at specific spaces, the conference will raise questions and examine issues on varying topics: security concepts and practices, security-related "knowledge production" and the learning- and transfer-processes of concepts inside of and between empires, all while considering the strength of imperial structures which allowed these concepts to develop.
This is a closed event (by invitation only). There will be a public lecture by Prof. Martin Thomas (Exeter) at 5:30 pm on 16 March.