Call for Papers
Workshop "Security and Difference in Historical Perspective"
4-5 June 2020, Justus Liebig University, Giessen
Security discourses and security-related practices are contingent on the distinction between "secure" and "insecure". They inevitably create difference(s) and boundaries, the ignorance or transgression of which is usually associated with uncertainty/insecurity. Conversely, social group-building processes and perceptions of difference often trigger processes of securitization. Security and difference are therefore co-constitutive. The tensions through which security discourses and practices unfold bear on difference(s).
Surprisingly, Critical Security Studies has hardly ever addressed the interrelation between security and difference. Only recent debates in postcolonial and feminist studies have highlighted the relevance of gender, race, class, age, and religion for security research. According to these critics, current security research seems trapped in hegemonic assumptions, making it impossible to consider subaltern speaker positions or to examine such security concerns, which are not articulable in the context of difference-based power relations. This critique opens up new intersectional perspectives that take the interweaving as well as traversing of categories of difference, phenomena of transition, and border crossing into account. What explains the present lack of intersectional critique in security research? Does the research agenda of Security Studies, that is often dependent on binary structures of difference(s), simply not allow for considerations of intersectionality? What limitations but, equally, what opportunities might this 'engender' for historically-interested security research?
Endeavoring to explore these questions, the workshop will focus on the connection between security discourses as well as practices and the formation, negotiation, and fixation of difference(s). In particular, it will investigate which categories of difference were or are considered relevant in the context of security discourse/practice, and to what extent security practices were or are oriented towards heuristics and corresponding routines for the production, preservation, or even questioning of difference.
We invite researchers to submit an abstract. The following questions and aspects should serve as a guideline, but do not exclude further questions and ideas.
- How were security measures justified with reference to difference(s)? Conversely, how have difference(s) and boundaries been justified with reference to security?
- Who constructed or reproduced difference(s) in the sake of security? From what position of power did this happen and by what means?
- Which categories of difference were prioritized? How have differences been related or hierarchized?
- To what extent and how do intersectional constellations exactly complicate security discourses and measures? Do they make them impossible? Up to what point can a security measure be intersectionally applied or reflected at all? Which blind spots can the historical perspective reveal within critical security research?
- What techniques, media, forms, and semantics were used in the negotiation of security and difference?
- What is the historical connection between security and social group formation (in-group vs. out-group)? In which historical constellations did security practices and rhetoric lead to a leveling or confirmation of difference (e.g. semantics of truce/"United we stand, divided we fall!" vs. "Us against them!")?
- drawing borders (inside/outside)
- internal differentiation qua worthiness of protection ("women and children first"), security-related distribution of tasks and hierarchies inscribed therein
- securitization of the other ("othering")
- "strategic essentialism" (G. Spivak)
- Which everyday security practices had a differentiating effect (e.g. racial profiling, gender-specific dress codes, spatial planning und use of space)? Which acts of contravention, i.e. disregarding differences and crossing borders, become tangible in the sources?
- Does the focus on security and difference ask for a specific form of critique towards historical sources? Does it draw attention to specific problems inherent in the sources? If so, which ones?
- source selection, questioning, and criticism
- inexistence or lack of accessibility of sources
- mediality, materiality, form, and rhetoric
Organized by the concept group "Difference and Intersectionality".
Contact: Prof. Dr. Sigrid Ruby, Institute of Art History, University of Giessen,