This workpackage draws on political and cultural theory, international relations, and criminology to develop an innovative theorisation of the nexus between security and liberty and its application to the European context. It specifically responds to characterisations of contemporary security practices in terms of «the state of exception», the spatio-temporal re-articulation of the exception in political practice, and the political and social implications of this re-articulation.
The project is explicitly conceived as a contribution to the theoretical literature but is grounded in our experience of conceptual difficulties arising from a broad range of policy debates, especially in relation to forms of «securitization» in Europe developed in relation to new and increasingly globalized insecurities. The project will concentrate on the following themes:
The political implications of diagnosing the present in terms of «exceptionalism»; the specific discourses of exceptionalism characterizing the security problematique in Europe; the relation of this diagnosis to competing accounts of appropriate ways of responding to the new security environment.
Legal, social, and political transformations that emerge in the state of exception and how such transformations impact upon the interface between the political and governmental.
The relationship between new security technologies and the legitimation of new exceptionalisms.
The relationship between new forms of exceptionalism and changing forms of sovereign authority.
The implications of exceptionalism for civil liberties and constitutionalism.
The implications of exceptionalism for practices of deliberation and contestation in the «public sphere.»
The relationship between exceptionalism, globalised warfare and transformations of «the political.»
The workpackage is hence a response to claims about: a shift from great power hegemony to some sort of globalizing empire; the contemporary significance of Clausewitzian accounts of war in the light of new military technologies; the increasing complexity and contingency of borders that once seemed to mark the distinction between norm and exception, the world of policing and the world of military force; and the need to re-theorize the historical and structural relationship between violence and modern subjectivity. It involves an enquiry into what is at stake in conceptualising the present in terms of exceptionalism and the reinscription, rearticulation and legitimation of new sites of violence. It explores discourses of exceptionalism in relation to local, national and transnational practices of security, and their implications not only for personal safety and social protection but also for social and political life more generally, especially within the European context. While the orthodoxy in international relations, following Schmitt, locates sovereignty, the capacity to make decisions about norms and exceptions, friends and enemies, within the territorial state, the challenge now is that while sovereignty remains a problem, and still involves a capacity to distinguish between norms and exceptions, it is no longer so firmly tied to territoriality. This transformation has profound implications for the politics of liberty and security and for the spatio-temporal locations of such politics. Many theorists have spoken of the normalisation of the state of exception and of politics as the continuation of war by other means, especially in attempts to make sense of the security environment that has challenged so many conventions since September 11, 2001. Unsurprisingly, the various responses to recent deployments of violence, whether as «terror» or a «war on terror» has forced a serious re-engagement with the principles, institutions and practices of modern sovereignty. This project thus seeks to analyse various aspects of this re-engagement and to clarify the stakes of thinking about recent deployments of violence as profound challenges to the kind of political community/identity and space/time that Schmitt, and subsequent accounts of national security, simply took for granted. Along with WP10, it will reflect on the role of religion and theological authority in the post-9/11 context. (see Islam, Citizenship and European Integration, accompanying measure coordinated by Jocelyne Cesari under 5 PCRD, coordinator of WP 10, see www.nocrime.org)
The project will also report on and develop a preliminary assessement of aspects of public policy, state governance and civil society responses that pertain to forms of exceptionalism emerging in the UK. This part of the project will be linked to the collective work of the observatory. Drawing on media reports and on more systematic work conducted by both academic and nongovernmental institutions, the UK team will especially be concerned to clarify the theoretical judgements that might now guide evaluations of the difference between conventional accounts of the relation between liberty and security under the law and claims about novel forms of exceptionalism.
Description of work
The workpackage will make both theoretical and methodological contributions to the overall project.
Contribution to the development of theory
The workpackage will compare, synthesize and develop a critique of various theorizations of (in)security and securitization from political theory, international relations, criminology, philosophy, and social theory. We think this is in itself a significant ambition and that it has the potential for considerable innovation. In the first instance this would involve a collective analysis of the convergences and divergences in these theorizations. Beyond this, we hope to be able to link some of the more traditional discussions of sovereignty as they structure claims about security in international relations and political science with recent theoretical literatures driven by various («ontotheological») philosophies of identity and limits on the one hand, and various attempts to speak about new possibilities for the political and about new forms of governmentality on the other. This will involve a sustained engagement with writers who have explicitly engaged critically with the legacies of Carl Schmitt’s account of sovereign exceptionalism, especially the later work of Michel Foucault and recent texts by Giorgio Agamben. This will lead back, in turn, to a sustained comparative engagement with emerging literatures on «the new security agenda» and «securitization.» Such an engagement enables us in turn to develop a theoretical understanding of the relationship between globalised exceptions, warfare, and transnational and domestic security practices and their implications.
Contribution to methodology
Our methods will be pluralistic and largely driven by the specific theoretical discourses we engage. We are especially able to draw upon the very different forms of critical analysis developed Walker’s work on the subjectivity-alterity relation expressed by international relations theory and Jabri’s work on the discourses of violence, subjectivity and political agency. We will draw on various forms of critical, social, cultural, feminist and political theory, especially in relation to sovereignty/subjectivity, security/citizenship, social structuration/institutional practice and law/crime. The aim is to bring together, first in workshops and then in a sequence of attempts to synthesis, emerging theorizations of exceptionalism so as to evaluate the implications - ontological, epistemological and political - of bringing them together in the contemporary context.
Three modes of analysis will structure the project. In part we will be interpreting the basic theoretical principles that are being raised by theorists of the politics of exception and practitioners involved in the legislative, governmental, juridical, and NGO sectors in now widespread debates about sovereignty, security, liberty and subjectivity. We will be concerned with the textual analysis of policy statements, bureaucratic procedures, legal decisions, and so on not only as they emerge from official national and EU institutions but also from various practices of governmentality that exceed such formal jurisdictions, such as commercial enterprises and NGOs. In part we will be seeking to identify the specific sites at which exceptions are manifested, whether in relation to law, to the mass media, or to official governmental practices, and comparing these sites with the normative prescriptions affirmed by a territorial reading of state sovereignty. In this respect we are especially concerned to be able to identify the fluid and temporal quality of contemporary exceptionalisms. In part we will be engaging in some quite basic interrogations of the ways in which exceptionalism is understood within competing theoretical and political traditions and attempting to articulate a much clearer account of the implications of new forms of exceptionalism than can be found in the existing literature.
The project will hinge on close collaboration and writing among the two primary researchers and the sub-contracted researchers. Each will seek to develop a «state of the art» report on some key themes so as to clarify the common theoretical demands generated by the more empirical and policy aspects of CHALLENGE and to enable some mediation between the different accounts of exceptionalism that have been developing in various disciplinary and national contexts.
Rob Walker will develop a reading of theorizations of the spatio/temporal framing of exceptionalism from Schmitt’s statism to Agamben’s recent claims about the universalization of the exception, and of the consequences of this framing for accounts of political subjectivity and security. He will especially seek to link emerging analyses of exceptionalism to: a variety of claims about the need for new forms of security community, building on his previous work on the relation between security and subjectivity; a restructuring of security relations between Europe and North America; and the emergence of new forms of global political authority.
Vivienne Jabri will develop a reading of the implications of contemporary exceptionalisms in relation to globalised forms of violence, relations of power and implications for political contestation and deliberative practices. In seeking to explore the social and political implications of the state of exception, she will draw upon critical social and political thought to investigate the impact of the politics of exception on deliberative practices, political contestation, and the transformation of the «public sphere.» Just as the state of exception impacts upon changing forms of authority and legitimacy, so too it contributes to changing conceptions of the political and social relations therein.
The spatial re-articulation of authority is a persistent presence and challenges traditional sedimentations of political life. The implications are especially pertinent within the multicultural state. The relationship between culture and the politics of the exception will therefore be investigated by both primary researchers.
Ian Loader collaborating with Keele University, will develop a reading of the changing forms of exceptionalism expressed in transnationalized forms of policing and associated technologies, seeking to identify the relationship between new technologies of securitisation and practices of government instantiated at local, national, and transnational levels. These practices include policing beyond borders, the deployment of the military in internal security, and the integration of police, military, and intelligence services at domestic, international, and transnational levels.
Jef Huysmans, collaborating with Kings College London will investigate debates within security studies and alternative readings of securitisation. This will provide the backdrop to a more specific consideration of the implications of broadening conceptions of security on emergent discourses on fear and unease and how these are implicated in local, national, and transnational modes of exclusion.
Mike Dillon, collaborating with Kings College will investigate the relationship between security sector reform, the global state of exception and their implications for transformations of the political. Using Foucault’s understanding of «biopower», Dillon will investigate the implications of the digitalisation of the security sector and how this impacts upon practices of government across societal levels, from the local to the transnational.
To begin with, we envisage a series of informal meetings between the two primary researchers, their three collaborators and other relevant parties both at their respective institutions and among other participants in Challenge. This stage will culminate at the end of the first year in a formal workshop that is intended to clarify the relationship between our respective readings of the literature and contemporary developments. This process will enable us to produce three reports over the first 18 months of the project which will then become the basis both for our attempts to integrate the various components of CHALLENGE and for a relatively short (60,000 word) book of the kind recently published by Polity Press on key concepts. We expect that the project will also generate an edited collection of essays, whether as a special journal issue or an edited book.