In 1975–1976, Lebanon and the city of Beirut were consumed by devastating armed conflict. But whereas this empirical fact is uncontested, its historical causes and political meanings remain controversial. Sara Fregonese’s book War and the Cityfocuses on the rationalisation of the conflict and asks: Do Western descriptions of the war live up to the realities observed in Beirut? War and the City puts the spotlight on important political practices, which are the ways actors co-construct meaning in and through their own urban environments, and how those interpretations may develop differently from far-away truth claims. This said, the book also includes (exceedingly) structuralist narratives, and it raises important questions about whose perspectives (in Beirut) are listened to and heard. Furthermore, its treatments of works from related disciplines – security studies and International Relations especially – is underdeveloped if not outright crude.
Hagmann, Jonas (2022). War and the city: Urban geopolitics in Lebanon (Sara Fregonese), London, Tauris, 2020. Urban Studies, OnlineFirst PDF
How do urban security assemblages evolve? Scholars inspired by Deleuze’s influential Control Thesis see profound shifts in the ways urban security operates. Different to Foucault’s disciplinary logics, they argue, urban security assemblages now rely intimately on expanding casts of policing agents, digital surveillance and statistical knowledge(s). They reach beyond enclosures and national borders, and they challenge democratic politics ever more forcefully. Whether this general trajectory of security management holds true across the global cityscape is yet far from evident. Not only do most studies of contemporary control draw conclusions from European and North American cities exclusively. Many also reproduce and project abroad distinctively Eurocentric assumptions about state-society relations, governance and insecurity. This upcoming new article in Journal of Global Security Studies first foregrounds and problematizes these penchants. It then looks at the Moroccan city of Marrakech to detail how urban security assemblages may evolve in different ways, at other speeds, and following different steering logics than what is generally set out by research on control. The article concludes with a discussion of how insights offered by places such as Marrakech contribute to more robust, analytically refined and globally inclusive research on the contemporary politics of urban security.
Hagmann, Jonas (2021). Globalizing control research: The politics of urban security in and beyond the Alaouite Kingdom of Morocco. Journal of Global Security Studies. OnlineFirst. URL
Urban design is increasingly widely used for city-oriented security production, and thus becomes included into the latter’s complex politics of in- and exclusion. This contribution showcases how urban design becomes deployed as a technology of security both internationally and in Switzerland, and how a reflexive security studies perspective on this use offers productive new research avenues. This is because the focus on urban design allows asking in new ways whether ‘more security is better’, how technological interventions are used and appropriated, and how they reconfigure democratic processes. Security research drawing on reflexive IR and security studies is well placed to this endeavour, as it proposes integrative and dialectical analyses of how built environments may be empowering/disempowering and inclusive/exclusive. The contribution sets out the specificities of this research ontology, presents urban design’s operation as technology of security politics, and illustrates said link in two mini-case studies centring in Bogotá and Zürich. In line with the special section to which it contributes, the article seeks to familiarize readers with architecture-oriented political analysis, and to draw out main lines of further investigation.
Hagmann, Jonas; Kostenwein, David (2021). Urban design as technology of (counter-) democratic security politics. Swiss Political Science Review 27(1): 193-204. PDF
New technologies – from nanotech to drones, bioengineering and smart weapons – play prominent but also highly ambivalent roles in contemporary accounts of security politics. For some, the innovations represent potent solution to complex management problems. But for others, the new technologies themselves are causing the most pressing societal dangers of today. This dominant Manichean framing of technology yet distracts from the fact that technology has no deterministic effects in and of itself. In a reflexive security studies perspective, the shape, design and uses of ‘new tech’ is deeply enmeshed in shifting power-laden social and political practices, and thus much more contradictory and dynamic. This new special section focuses on these complex processes of making new technology meaningful – and operational – in the security field. Its seven contributions look at how cybersecurity, predictive policing, drones, artificial intelligence, targeted sanctions and urban design are enlisted as technologies of security in Switzerland, and they offer a range of dedicated analytical arguments about how this process evolves. The ambition of the special section is to introduce readers not commonly engaing with security technology with state-of-the-art conception of their political significance, and to showcase contributions of reflexive IR and security research to political analysis.
Dunn Cavelty, Myriam; Hagmann, Jonas (2021). The politics of technology and security in Switzerland. Swiss Political Science Review 27(1): 128-138. PDF
With contributions by Florian Egloff, Myriam Dunn Cavelty, Matthias Leese, Francisco Klauser, Andreas Wenger, Sophie-Charlotte Fischer, Mark Daniel Jäger, Jonas Hagmann, David Kostenwein and Anna Leander.
What do UN Security Council delegations mean what talking about threats to international peace and security? In the context of a larger trinational research project run by the University of Geneva, SWP Berlin and ETH Zürich, we digitised the statemens made by all 15 Council member delegations. The database – which will be expanded in the future with additional data-years and invited speakers – currently covers the years 2010-2018. This makes for 12’362 individual statements that can be queried by various pre-select and open parameters at the hands of a dedicated search engine and user interface.
How is peacebuilding construed? What’s the situation in Syria about? Targeted sanctions means what? With its focus on Security Council debates, the platform offers a new tool to analyse contents of statement and distributions of discursive powers within the Council. As public resource, it allows visitors to create quick tableaux of results, visualise the distribution of tropes across time, or download sorted sets of statements.
Urbane Sicherheitsgouvernanz wird stark von lokalen Gegebenheiten gesteuert. Wie demokratisch und rechenschaftspflichtig ist das Politikumfeld? Welche Gefährdungen werden als primäre Herausforderungen anerkannt? Welchen Typ Technologie kann und mag eingesetzt werden? Und was ist die Rollenverteilung zwischen Staat, Privatwirtschaft und Zivilgesellschaft? An der Jahreskonferenz der Städtischen Sicherheitsdirektorinnen und -direktoren (KSSD) der Schweiz in Bern leuchte ich die Diversität der Ansätze aus, mit dem Ziel die Reflexion über Ist- und Ideal-Zustände voranzutreiben.
It is generally accepted today that major international events – such as in 1914, 1945, 1989 or 2001 – contribute to guiding IR scholarship’s interests. But it remains poorly explored how, beyond substantive focus, transformative political events affect the academic field’s own working and organization. Whereas we know that global key moments (such as the end of the Cold War) were or are experienced differently by different societies, at the policy level, in terms of identity-construction and historiography, it remains to explore how such changes influence scholarly work in different higher education systems. Our article in International Studies Perspectives focuses on this link. It centers on the role of institutional factors in the conditioning of IR scholarship, which it sees as important yet under-explored intervening elements in the interrelation between political events and academic practice. The article defines the utility of such focus and illustrates it with casework centering on the end of the Cold War, and three central parties to the Cold War conflict – Russia as representative of the Eastern Bloc, Canada of the Western Alliance, and Switzerland as a Neutral polity. In doing so, the article showcases how institutional factors such as funding schemes, the marketization of education or creation of new IR departments operate as effective ‘hinges’, exerting significant influence over the ways scholars develop ideas about international relations.
Grenier, Félix; Hagmann, Jonas; Lebedeva, Marina; Nikitina, Yulia; Biersteker, Thomas; Koldunova, Ekatarina (2020). The institutional ‘hinge’: How the end of the Cold War conditioned Canadian, Russian and Swiss IR scholarship. International Studies Perspectives 21(2): 198-217. PDF
Contemporary security practices rarely represent new inventions – albeit change is important to it, the security politics of today often has a very long lineage. It adapts, reworks and sometimes just rehashes old ideas and practices of policing, and is embedded in deeply entrenched, historically grown and power-laden frameworks of collective, national, local or international sense- and decision-making. This contribution to Contemporanea‘s Special Section on the “History of Transnational Security Management in Europe” argues that is important and useful for critical security studies to enter into a more systematic kind of dialogue with history. If, in turn, historians are willing to help in this effort and engage themselves more closely with the analytical frameworks and discussions of security scholars, then productive new academic encounters ensue.
Hagmann, Jonas (2019). Historicizing security analysis: the utility of looking beyond the current. Contemporanea Rivista di Storia (Italian Contemporary History Review) 22(4): 215-220. PDF
What does it take to safeguard a country like Switzerland? And is the national security system, which exudes certainty to those controlled by its agents, indeed as fortified as it appears? This essay chapter in Salvatore Vitale’s photographic visual study of 21st century statehood discusses the history and political sociology of the Swiss national security field. It lends a special eye to the the authorities capable of defining what security is or ought to be about, and asks whether the field has become more accessible and participatory in recent years.
Hagmann, Jonas (2019). Making Switzerland secure, making security Swiss. In: Vitale, Salvatore (ed.). How to Secure a Country, pp261-265. Zürich: Lars Müller Publishers. PDF
‘Security’ has for the most part been considered a special kind of politics by observers, as one that closes down inclusive policy-making and democratic debate. This Special Issue reviews theoretical and empirical developments at the intersections of ‘security’ and ‘politics’. It argues that research centering on the notion of politicization offers new ideas on how to addresses this complex and evolving conceptual tandem, and importantly, helps elucidate the growing range of actors, arenas and arguments factually visible in contemporary security affairs. The Special Issue develops a framework around the dimensions of controversy, mobilization and arena-shifting, and showcases the potential of such a perspective through empirical illustrations and theoretical examinations, covering issues such as post-Snowden public-policy controversy in Germany, lay participation in European security strategy-making, and the evolving role of the British parliament in UK security politics. The Special Issue’s ambition is to re-engage the relationship between security and politics, to inspire innovative new empirical work on ‘politics around security’, and to empower more differentiated inquiries into the ambivalent consequences of politicization.
Hagmann, Jonas; Hegemann, Hendrik; Neal, Andrew (2018). The politicization of security: Controversy, mobilization, arena shifting . European Review of International Studies 5(3): 3-29. URLToC
With contributions by Karin Aggestam, Annika Bergman Rosamond, Myriam Dunn Cavelty, Matthias Leese, Andrew Neal, Pinar Bilgin Fiona de Londras, Eric van Rythoven, Jonas Hagmann and Hendrik Hegemann.
The Special Issue was followed up in 2020 by a Review Forum with contributions by Linda Monsees, Mike Slaven, Akos Kopper, Andras Szalai and Stefan Kroll. See European Review of International Studies 7(1): 105-122. URL