Concept group 5: Mobility
second funding stage (2018-2021)
In the course of the research done during the SFB’s first funding phase, it became apparent that the aspect of mobility - meaning the ability and possibility of individuals and groups to change their position within different conditions with regard to their spatial and social environment - is essential in the much debated-on understanding of security spaces, which themselves may change in the course of time and are subject to power aspects. As an example, this may be derived from the peculiarity, that mobility questions the closedness of political spaces and therefore may be perceived as a potential or substantial threat. Further, mobility as cause for or object of securitization does not only relate to spatial, but also social changes which are consolidated in the term “social mobility” and may also be addressed under the issue of security. The concept group “mobility” aims to sort these discussions in a historicizing perspective.
Spatial mobility was and is central to securitization measures, as contemporarily seen in discussions about refugees in Europe. On the basis of discriminating legitimate and illegitimate types of mobility (Aradau 2016), the mobility of one respective social group, e.g. refugees, is declared a security threat and is subjected to measures of control, arrest, limitation and exclusion. At the same time, mobility functions as a point of reference in the construction of perception of threats. When perceived as threatened, mobility may act as reference object of securitization, e.g. when it comes to persons, data and goods traffic (Nolte 2016; Simon/de Goede 2016). The construction of mobility as threat as well as being threatened thus initiates processes of securitization. This is not restricted to mobile intelligence, protection and combat units, but also concerns securitization institutions as internment camps, which limit the mobility of the internees with high flexibility and quick mobilization (Meiches 2015). Ultimately, mobility and mobilization are not only reference objects or part of the construction of threat, they may also be understood as an enabling conditions in processes of securitization: securitizing agents, security experts and technologies are often themselves mobile and may transfer heuristics and repertoires of securitization into new contexts and spaces.
The distinction between legitimate and illegitimate mobility exceeds mere spatial mobility. The securitization of spatial mobility historically serves the purpose of constraining and controlling social mobility, i.e. producing and maintaining social stratification or social exclusion. Especially in this context, the distinction of legitimate and illegitimate, because “dangerous”, mobility acquires a double quality, be it for the securitization of social protest movements since the 19th century, the marginalization and adjustment of refugees in the present or the restrictions of spatial and social mobility in the premodern feudal system. Strategies to control and immobilize social groups appear to be the securitizing reaction to complex and historic perceptions of security problems in which heuristics of threat, social status interests and political struggles for power are interconnected. The concept group therefore aims to review the nexus of spatial and social mobility on processes of securitization.