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
It is generally accepted today that major international events – such as in 1914, 1945, 1989 or 2001 – contribute to guiding IR scholarship’s interests. Yet, it remains surprisingly 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 linkage. 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 (2019). The institutional ‘hinge’: How the end of the Cold War conditioned Canadian, Russian and Swiss IR scholarship. International Studies Perspectives. 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. URL ToC
The speed and scale of contemporary urbanization is unprecedented, and it brings along tremendous social, environmental, economic and politics problems – while also generating enormous opportunities for livelihood improvement. With a new Future Cities Lab Global, ETH Zürich seeks to integrate and strategically advance its natural science competencies in the domain of urban science. The ambition of FCL Global, on whose research plans and governance scheme I currently counsel, and which brings together about 25 professorships and senior scientists, and 50 post-docs and PhD students, is to produce inter-disciplinary and transformative research, teaching and public outreach. Focussing on the challenges of digitization, inclusive planning, blue/green/bright infrastructure development and public health-oriented design, among other things, it seeks to promote more sustainable forms of urbanization in European and Asian settlements, through science, by design, and in place.
Grêt-Regamey, Adrienne; Cairns, Stephen; Erath, Alex; Hagmann, Jonas; Stokols, Andrew (2018). Future Cities Lab Global: Outline Proposal. Singapore/Zürich: ETH Zürich and FCL Singapore, 88p. noPDF
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.
Police – Programa de Alta Dedicación Operativa
Penitentiary – Cárcel Punta de Rieles
Private security (integrated) control room
Residential space and vigilantism
Fieldwork in the Ciudad Vieja
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