International Collaboratory on Critical Methods in Security Studies

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1 International Collaboratory on Critical Methods in Security Studies Funded by ESRC International training and networking opportunities (RES ) 1 October September 2011 Jef Huysmans (Open University) Claudia Aradau (Open University) Andrew Neal (University of Edinburgh) Nadine Voelkner (University of Sussex) 1. Research context: from critical research to critical methodologies Today almost any social or political problem can be legitimately framed in terms of dangers, risks, disasters or pending catastrophe. This development has been reflected in security studies and International Relations, where research now covers practices as diverse as the constitution of fear in popular culture and advertising (Weldes 1999), environmental degradation (Dalby 2002), the security implications of migration (Huysmans 2006; van Munster 2009), the security claims of refugees (Lavenex 2001), the commodification and privatisation of security (Abrahamsen and Williams 2006; Leander 2005), the spreading of risk calculation and management (Lobo-Guerrero 2007; Salter 2008; Salter and Zureik 2005), and the increase in surveillance technology (Lyon 2002; Vlcek 2008). What are the consequences of increasingly rendering a vast range of policies in security terms, of people making sense of their everyday living together, both locally and globally, in terms of dangers and insecurities, and of deploying surveillance technologies across a vast range of activities, from shopping over migration to monitoring environmental effects of industrialisation? This interest in how security practice changes social and political relations has led to critical security research that analyses the nature of security language, institutions and technologies and the consequences of applying them in various sites, ranging from the household, over neighbourhoods to states, regional complexes and global relations. In International Relations, this move away from threat analysis to an analysis of the nature of securitising practice is known as critical approaches to security (c.a.s.e. collective 2006; Krause and Williams 1997). Over the past decade, an increasing number of scholars and especially early career scholars and doctoral students have moved to studying insecurities along these lines (see for example, the Special issue on Critical Approaches to Security in Europe, Journal of International Relations and Development 2007). They rely on an innovative body of theoretical and conceptual tools that were developed in the 1990s (Campbell, 1992; Bigo 1996; Weldes, 1999; Der Derian, 1989; Fierke, 1998; Wæver, 1995; Walker, 1990; Buzan, 1998; Booth, 1991; Tickner, 1995; Wyn Jones, 1999). These theoretical and conceptual developments have continued since and produced new theoretical work on the transformation of security language and practice (Aradau, 2008; Huysmans, 2006; Loader, 2007; Williams, 2007; Sheehan, 2005; Larner, 2004). At the same time, however, early career researchers and PhD students are increasingly 1

2 defining their research around specific sites of security practice, so that we could speak of an explicit empirical turn in critical security studies. This empirical pursuit has made clear that a gap exists between an increasingly sophisticated theoretical debate and existing methodological resources that can be mobilised for the detailed study of specific empirical processes of securitising. To address this gap, critical security studies needs to develop adequate methodologies. So far, the field has been quite weak in turning its conceptual and theoretical innovations into methodological inquiry that would consider how particular methods impact upon the object of research and specifically what a critical methodology could mean for critical security studies and the research developed since the 1990s. Many early career scholars and PhD students are now in a situation where they have access to complex theories but need to figure out largely on their own how make these theoretical orientations work in empirical research. The Network is motivated by the need to consider critical research and critical methodology in conjunction, as mutually dependent rather than as isolated entities. It will investigate the potential of critical methods for security studies and create a virtual space of collaboration (Collaboratory). Developing knowledge about methods, creating a repository of critical methods and setting up collaborative working practice will be at the heart of this Network. Postgraduate research is largely focused on a toolbox of methods that students mix and match depending on their particular disciplines (for example, discourse analysis or ethnographic research). Methods are generally taken to be of a limited number and transferable from one field to another and, to a certain extent, from one theory to another. Nonetheless, there are also limits on this transferability inasmuch as social science methods, particularly quantitative ones, cannot be directly applied to critical approaches in security studies, which engage with the discursive and social construction of security. More recently, research on science studies has challenged the opposition between methods in social science and natural science and has advocated different ways for understanding methodology (e.g. Barad 2003; Bennett 2004; Latour 2000). Yet, these debates have not informed critical security studies. This project will look at these new advances regarding methodology and consider both the role of numbers and narratives in critical research as well as the ways in which methods impact upon the object of research and theoretical approach. The Network will inquire into the problems that arise out of existing assumptions of transferability, consider the nuanced ways in which methodological developments suggested by science studies need to translated rather than transferred and make them available in a virtual environment to increasing numbers of researchers and PhD students. To build methodological capacity requires - facilitating exchanges on the qualitative and quantitative methods that are used and their shortcomings; - setting up training in methods that fit the research agendas of critical security studies, such as discourse analysis, ethnographic research, Bourdieuan field analysis involving questionnaires and interview techniques, researching archives as well as the role of numbers and objects; - and, due to the limited methodological work done so far, developing economies of scale by organising this capacity internationally. We will organise networking and training opportunities where British and international students and early career researchers can come together to exchange and 2

3 develop methodological insights and approaches. Combining workshops and a training school with networking opportunities and collective work we seek to build new methodological capacity in critical approaches to security. 2. Project aims The aims of this Network are to build a sustainable international collaborative research capacity in methods in critical security studies and to create new network opportunities, to nurture international collective research in critical security, and to use new web-based technologies to support knowledge transfer and capacity building. a) Sustainable international collaborative research capacity in methods in critical security studies and new networking opportunities Although methods are generally considered to be secondary to empirical research and the object of study, this Network will inquire into how methods impact upon the objects of research, theoretical frameworks and social world. To this purpose, it plans to create a virtual Collaboratory on Critical Methods in Security Studies that connects doctoral students and early career scholars from the UK, Europe and North America. As most definitions of collaboratories emphasise, a collaboratory implies a network type of organisation which supports recurrent interaction among known and unknown participants over a shared issue. The Network will create new international collaborative capacity across geographical distance. More specifically, it will also enable the UK community in critical security studies to take a lead role internationally, by facilitating collaboration internationally as well as collective input in shared problems. Critical Methods refer here to methods that are used in new ways in security studies, being both transformed by and transformative of the theoretical approaches and objects of research. This entails methods that challenge taken-forgranted distinctions between numbers and narratives, nature and culture, materiality and discourse. b) Nurturing international collective research capacities The Collaboratory is not just a virtual laboratory on methods, but also a method of collaboration. Although research in security studies and social sciences has largely taken for granted an individualist model of research, based on fieldwork research and writing, new initiatives have attempted to move away from this individualist model and emphasise collective work (for example, in Anthropology, the Antropology of the Contemporary Research Laboratory, Berkeley, in security studies, CASE). Unlike cooperation, which is undertaken in social sciences for the purposes of bringing together scholars or collecting work, collaboration requires an interdependent division of labor on shared problems (Rabinow and Bennett 2007). Drawing on the collective writing experience developed in the CASE network (C.a.s.e. Collective, 2006; C.a.s.e. Collective, 2007), the Collaboratory supports working across generations in a non-hierarchical way and integrates, rather than simply connects, research done by researchers based in different countries. The Collaboratory will function once shared problems have been identified in the Networking Workshop 1. c) Setting up a web based collaborative research environment The Collaboratory aims at creating a web-based collaborative research environment that builds a capacity for recurrent and sustainable research exchange and knowledge creation. It thus seeks to overcome the limitations of relying exclusively on workshops and conferences. 3. Type of Activities Start-up and Virtual Collaboratory 3

4 An initial period of six months will be devoted to setting up the network, identifying the problems of methodology encountered by researchers and PhD students and organising the virtual Collaboratory. This website will be central to the success of the Network. A virtual Collaboratory on Critical Methods will allows us both to sustain the collective work throughout the project and after the ESRC funding ends. Workshops and training school In order to create momentum for the Network and particularly given the geographical distance involved in this Network, we will organise: - Two international workshops socialising participants into methodological and collective research (organised by the University of Sussex and the University of Edinburgh respectively) - A training school on critical methods for security studies, which draws together methodological expertise at the three institutions. The training school will be organised by The Open University. The three universities which are part of this Network are well placed to establish an international capacity in critical methodologies. The Open University, particularly through the Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change (CRESC) and the Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance (CCIG), has increasingly established new forms of methodological research in critical social science. The University of Sussex has also extensive expertise in political economy methods as well as critical discursive methods. The War, Violence, Security research cluster at the Department of International Relations collaborates closely with the interdisciplinary Justice and Violence Research Centre (JVRC) which brings together methodology in critical research from the disciplines of International Relations, Anthropology and Law. The University of Edinburgh will bring particular expertise in the study of social justice and methods that underpin normative theories through the involvement of its Just World Institute ( We also ensure the international character of the network by inviting 40% of the participants in the two workshops and the training school from outside the UK. The presence of senior researchers in these events as well as in the virtual Collaboratory will be important both to offer methodological training and expertise particularly through collaboration with other disciplines where there is important research done on methods but also to create an inter-generational dialogue that will smooth the way for the dissemination and acceptance of new research and critical methods. 4. Timetable for Activities Month Activities A1 Collaboratory set-up A2 Workshop 1* A3 Wiki and Blogs** A4 Training School A5 Workshop 2 A6 Methods Repository * Workshop 1 will coincide with the set-up of the Collaboratory; **By month 6, working groups will be functional and using the wiki and blogs. 4

5 References Abrahamsen, R. and M. C. Williams Security sector reform: bringing the private in. Conflict, Security & Development 6, no. 1: Aradau, Claudia. (2008) Rethinking Trafficking in Women. Politics out of Security. Hampshire: Palgrave. Barad, Karen Posthumanist Performativity: Toward an Understanding of How Matter Comes to Matter. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 28, no. 3: Bennett, Jane The Force of Things: Steps toward an Ecology of Matter. Political Theory 32, no. 3: Bigo, Didier Polices en Réseaux. L'expérience européenne. Paris: Presses de Sciences Po. Booth, Ken (1991) Security and Emancipation. Review of International Relations 17: Buzan, Barry, Ole Wæver, and Jaap de Wilde. (1998) Security: A New Framework for Analysis. Boulder: Lynne Rienner. C.a.s.e. Collective. (2006) Critical Approaches to Security in Europe. A Network Manifesto. Security Dialogue 37: (2007) Europe, Knowledge, Politics - Engaging with the Limits: The C.A.S.E. Collective Responds. Security Dialogue 38: Campbell, David (1992) Writing Security. United States Foreign Policy and the Politics of Identity. 1st edition ed. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Dalby, Simon Environmental Security. Borderlines. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Der Derian, James, and Michael Shapiro (eds) (1989) International/Intertextual Relations. Postmodern Readings of World Politics. Lexington: Lexington Books. Fierke, Karin. (1998) Changing Games, Changing Strategies: Critical Investigations in Security. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Huysmans, Jef The Politics of Insecurity: Fear, Migration and Asylum in the EU. London: Routledge. Krause, Keith and Michael C. Williams From Strategy to Security: Foundations of Critical Security Studies In Critical Security Studies. Concepts and Cases, ed. Keith Krause and Michael C. Williams: London: UCL Press. Larner, Wendy, and William Walters (eds) (2004) Global Governmentality: Governing International Spaces. London: Routledge. Latour, B When things strike back: a possible contribution of'science studies' to the social sciences. The British Journal of Sociology 51, no. 1: Lavenex, S The Europeanization of refugee policies: Normative challenges and institutional legacies. Journal of Common Market Studies 39, no. 5: Leander, A The power to construct international security: on the significance of private military companies. Millenium: Journal of International Studies 33, no. 3: 803. Lobo-Guerrero, Luis Biopolitics of Specialist Risk: Kidnap and Ransom Insurance. Security Dialogue 38, no. 3. Loader, Ian, and Neil Walker. (2007) Civilizing Security. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 5

6 Lyon, David, ed Surveillance as Social Sorting: Privacy, risk, and automated discrimination. London: Routledge. Rabinow, Paul and Gaymon Bennett A diagnostic of equipmental platforms. Berkeley: ARC Working Paper No. 9, Accessed 10 January 2009 Salter, M. B Imagining numbers: risk, quantification, and aviation security. Security Dialogue 39, no. 2/3: 243. Salter, Mark B. and Elia Zureik, eds Global Surveillance and Policing: Borders, Security, Identity. Cullopton: Willan Publishing. Sheehan, Michael. (2005) International Security. An Analytical Survey. Boulder: Lynne Rienner. Tickner, J. Ann. (1992) Gender in International Relations. Feminist Perspectives on Achieving Global Security. New York: Columbia University Press. van Munster, Rens Securitising Immigration. Basingstoke: Palgrave. Vlcek, W A Leviathan rejuvenated: Surveillance, money laundering, and the war on terror. International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society. Wæver, Ole. (1995) Securitization and Desecuritization. In On Security, edited by Ronnie Lipschutz, pp New York: Columbia University Press. Walker, R.B.J.. (1990) Security, Sovereignty, and the Challenge of World Politics. Alternatives 15:3-27. Weldes, J Cultures of insecurity: States, communities, and the production of danger: U of Minnesota Press. Williams, Michael C. (2007) Culture and Security. Symbolic Power and the Politics of International Security. Abingdon: Routledge. Wyn Jones, Richard (1999) Security, Strategy, and Critical Theory. Boulder: Lynne Rienner. 6

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