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
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.
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
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
My UdelaR colleague Diego Sanjurjo and I are currently in the field to trace how public authorities, citizens, private companies and civil society groups contribute to urban security politics in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo. We also analyze how the country’s political heritage – a statist inclination and history of military dictatorship rule especially – conditions the politics of in- and exclusion in three different sub-city sites, Ciudad Vjeja, Tres Cruses Terminal, and Montevideo Shopping/World Trace Centre. First findings draw a fairly complex panorama in which new government programs for integrated citizen safety, generalized video surveillance, and significant expansions of the private security sector don’t succeed in curbing growths in crime and violence, heightened public sentiments of pervasive insecurity, and polarized political debates regarding the city’s future trajectories.
Montevideo is the third case study in the SNSF Ambizione research program “Securing the city: The global politics and practices of urban protection”. It connects and compares to political sociology work on the Swiss cities of Zürich, Basel and Bern, the Moroccan city of Marrakech, and the Nepali capital of Kathmandu.
For extended visual documentation of our Montevideo fieldwork see here.
It is widely known that national security fields changed considerably in the last decades. Different from the late Cold War years, when they focused on military threats, were closely orchestrated by Defence Ministries and contained few international contacts, national security ‘systems’ today handle wide sets of dangers, draw on complex casts of actors across levels of government, and often maintain working relations with multiple foreign partners. This comprehensive reconfiguration of national security fields is a central theme to security scholars and policymakers alike – but also difficult to pin down for methodological reasons. Written documentation on security agencies does not give precise indication of actual everyday inter-agency work practices, and assessments of nationwide security work across functions and levels of government are challenging by sheer questions of size. Adopting a practice-oriented approach to security research, this article draws on an unparalleled nationwide data collection effort to differentiate and map-out the Swiss security field’s programmatic and institutional evolution.
Figure 1: Ministerial threat management practice
Figure 11: Transnational inter-agency cooperation in Swiss national security
Hagmann, Jonas; Davidshofer, Stephan; Tawfik, Amal; Wenger, Andreas; Wildi, Lisa (2018). The programmatic and institutional (re-)configuration of the Swiss national security field. Swiss Political Science Review 24(3): 215-245. PDF / Score tables / OpenAccess URL
From August – October 2018, I will be a visiting scholar at the Universidad de la Republica’s Department of Social Sciences. The research stay serves to connect to sociologists, criminologists and political scientists based at UdelaR – especially the research group of Professor Nico Trajtenberg – and to conduct field research on the reconfiguration of urban security management in the City of Montevideo.
ETH Zürich covers our ongoing Winter School on urban (in-)security in the Cape Town township of Khayelitsha in a social media news stream. Visit the ISTP homepage, facebook or twitter account for updates, reports and audio-visual material.
Khayelitsha – Harare and Monwabisi Park
Program visits – Ikhayalami/EmpowerShack and Social Justice Coalition
African Centre for Cities – 10th Anniversary Conference