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.
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
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
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
There is much agreement that urban security dispositives acquired new qualities in recent years. But do the dominant diagnoses hold up to detailed empirical verification? This piece in International Political Sociology re-engages the pertinent security studies literature. In the age of globalisation and urbanisation, technological innovation and liberal policy ideals, how are urban security apparatuses reorganised, and in what relations do they stand to local societal and political orders? Describing the evolving security handling of three urban spaces – a site of mobility (HB Zürich), a public square (Bundesplatz Bern) and a place of mass commerce (St. Jakob Park Basel) –, the article makes the case for more nuanced engagements with urban security ensembles, their technological evolution, relations with democratic ideals, globalisation and de-territorialisation both in and beyond Western polities.
Securing public space in Switzerland – Bundesplatz Bern
Hagmann, Jonas (2017). Security in the society of control: The politics and practices of securing urban spaces. International Political Sociology 11(4): 418-448. PDF
Depuis la naissance de la Suisse moderne en 1848, sécurité a constamment rimé avec neutralité. De nos jours, cette dernière reste encore perçue par une large majorité de Suisses comme une garantie de protection face aux tumultes du monde. Cependant, dans la pratique, cette singularité est remise en question. Notre article dans Questions internationales démontre que dans un monde interdépendant, l’impératif de coopération, indispensable pour gérer les menaces avant tout globales et transnationales, s’accompagne d’une discrète mais profonde transformation du paysage sécuritaire du pays situé au cœur de l’Europe.
Davidshofer, Stephan; Tawfik, Amal; Hagmann, Jonas (2017). La sécurité suisse: entre neutralité et impératif de coopération. Questions internationales 87 (2017/5): 25-29. PDF
There is much agreement that urban security dispositives acquired new qualities in recent years. But do the dominant diagnoses hold up to detailed empirical verification? This forthcoming piece in International Political Sociology re-engages the pertinent security studies literature. In the age of globalisation and urbanisation, technological innovation and liberal policy ideals, how are urban security apparatuses reorganised, and in what relations do they stand to local societal and political orders? Describing the evolving security handling of three urban spaces – a site of mobility (HB Zürich), a public square (Bundesplatz Bern) and a place of mass commerce (St. Jakob Park Basel) –, the article makes the case for more nuanced engagements with urban security ensembles, their technological evolution, relations with democratic ideals, globalisation and de-territorialisation both in and beyond Western polities.
Securing public space in Switzerland – Bundesplatz Bern
Hagmann, Jonas (forthcoming). Security in the society of control: The politics and practices of securing urban spaces. International Political Sociology. PDF