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.
The website was expanded with a repository for visual documentation. Find and browser through photography, videos and interview statements taken during fieldwork in Marrakech, Kathmandu and Cape Town.
Kathmandu interview statements
Khayelitsha, Cape Flats
From June – August 2018, I will be a visiting researcher at the University of Amsterdam’s Department of Political Science. The research stay serves to connect to UvA-based security studies scholars, especially Marieke de Goede’s ERC research program on the production/translation of ‘security knowledge’, as well as to local urban studies specialists, such as Rivke Jaffe and her ERC grant on urban security assemblages in cities of the global south.
How do notions of collective international insecurity come about, and what are their effects on foreign policy-making? The Copenhagen School’s securitization theory offers a powerful take on the political construction of threats. In its original variant, however, the theory focuses strongly on the deontic (norm-breaking) powers of ‘security talk’ – and not on the threat sceneries that the latter substantively describes. This article addresses this latter link by reworking securitization into a positional/relational argument. Seen its way, the framing of something as threatening comes with larger – often implicit – claims about threatening and threatened actors in world politics. The empirical cases on post-war France and West Germany show how securitization equals an epistemological systematization of international affairs, for the political construction of collective international danger becomes an ordering process that conditions foreign policy strategizing.
Hagmann, Jonas (2018). Securitisation and the production of international order(s). Journal of International Relations and Development 21(1): 194-222. PDF
Jennifer Duyne Barenstein and I are organizing an ISTP Spring School in Cape Town on urban security practices/instruments in low-income neighborhoods. The program covers two weeks, starting 29 January 2018, and is open to ETH Zürich PhD and MA students. It includes lectures on Southern Urbanism, socio-spatial exclusion and everyday security politics. It also entails participation in a UCT urban studies conference, training in fieldwork methodology and on-site research. Deadline for applications is 10 December.