General Research Programme of the SFB/TRR 138
Throughout history, at least since the beginnings of modern statehood, the security of individuals has been both the objective of government and the legitimation for government. Thus, the societal notion of security and the dealing with it have always been of vital significance for the form and formation of existing and emerging political orders. It is beyond question that security has become a powerful topos, a key concept, capable of legitimating a vast number of political actions. Since April 2014, the researchers at the universities of Marburg and Gießen as well as the Herder Institute for Historical Research on East Central Europe have devoted themselves to the issue “Dynamics of security. Forms of securitization from a historical perspective” in the SFB/TRR 138. They investigate how perceptions of security have developed throughout history and how these were involved in the political process. In doing so, the SFB/TRR takes research approaches from political science, specifically the model of securitization of the Copenhagen School of International Relations, and develops these further out of a historical perspective. The research association thus performs, for the first time, a comprehensive analysis of the political dynamics with which securitization processes and the opposing desecuritization processes are linked - including their ambivalence and dialectics.
To do so, the SFB/TRR does not apply any fixed, static understanding of security. Instead, security is seenas changeable and variable within the historical process, as a social construct that is the object of competing interpretations and interests and can thus only be comprehended historically, like other fundamental concepts and values in socio-political language. It follows from this approach that the research association’s analysis does not focus on a period of time, such as the most recent contemporary history that has previously been at the fore of security research, but transcends the boundaries of eras and thus investigates and, if necessary, breaks them down. The objective of the collaborative, interdisciplinary research work of SFB/TRR 138 - including history, social sciences, law, history of art - is initially to create a set of analysis tools and finally, over the course of the twelve-year funding period, achieve an overall typology of the dynamics of security throughout history.