13. April 2015

Etnofoor Call for Papers: Security

Security is a hot topic, for academics as well as for politicians, corporations and a broad range of state or quasi-state actors. The term
can be seen as indicative of a defining moment in late modernity, with biopolitical forms of governmentality intersecting with sovereign and
disciplinary forms. Across societies and in a broad variety of domains, we can recognize attempts to increase security by detecting, assessing
and intervening in threats. Security and risk management have become increasingly prominent themes (see Baumann 2001; Beck 1999, and Zedner 2009), with consequences for governments, citizens and a range of other actors. Concepts such as human security, food security, and social security further highlight this preoccupation.

While the study of security has primarily been the focus of political science and international relations, it is increasingly a topic of
analysis for anthropologists, as highlighted by Daniel Goldstein¹s (2010) call for a 'critical security anthropology¹, in which anthropologists can analyse the numerous ways in which security is employed and constituted. Questions that can be posed within such an approach include the following: What does security actually mean and to whom? What dominant and counterhegemonic definitions or framings are used by different groups or individuals, and to which effects? How do such interpretations, implementations and consequences differ across states, societies and neighbourhoods?

Such questions emphasize the need to understand more about the concept of security itself and the way it is interpreted. This approach ties into the increasingly pluralised and globalised nature of security that is no longer solely the responsibility of the nation-state. Instead, we see a
plethora of security providers (vigilante groups, gangs, private security companies, and neighbourhood watches) that engage in performances of security and often use violence as a means of usurping authority. This forces us to rethink the supposed state¹s monopoly on the use of
violence, and the intricate dynamics between non-state security and violence. Furthermore, there is a need to further analyse how this
impacts on the daily-lived experiences of citizens/political subjects and on their feelings of belonging. Additionally, we can observe the
different measures people employ to affect their (in)secure circumstances themselves and how they talk about their own (in)securities.

The growing emphasis on security has also impacted the architectural structures of many urban centres that are now increasingly marked by CCTV cameras, fences, high walls, and a range of other gadgets and systems. What do these various technologies mean for people living in the city, how do they impact how citizens experience their mobility within urban centres, and what does this reveal about the aesthetics of security? Furthermore, the growth of ethnographic accounts on security (and often violence) highlights the need for anthropologists to critically reflect on their role as researcher and the potential methodological dilemmas that they encounter in the field.

Etnofoor invites authors that ethnographically engage with these issues to submit an abstract of no more than 200 words to before May 1, 2015.