Post-structuralism, continental philosophy and the remaking of security studies

Authored by: Claudia Aradau , Rens van Munster

The Routledge Handbook of Security Studies

Print publication date:  November  2009
Online publication date:  December  2009

Print ISBN: 9780415463614
eBook ISBN: 9780203866764
Adobe ISBN: 9781135239077


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From the early 1990s, the discipline of Security Studies has witnessed the growth of a literature inspired by continental thought. Initially labelled ‘post-structuralist’ (Hansen 1997), this literature draws more largely on ideas and concepts from twentieth-century continental philosophy to challenge both realist understandings of security and the emerging constructivist consensus. While the term ‘continental philosophy’ is largely an artefact that works in opposition to ‘analytic philosophy’ and only entered the Anglo-Saxon world after the end of the Second World War, twentieth-century continental thought shares a series of ideas such as the historical and cultural embeddedness of subjects, the role of practice and the critique of present conditions (Critchley 1998). Drawing on continental philosophy more generally has allowed security scholars to challenge dominant understandings and practices of security and add new dimensions to the post-structuralist questions about the significance of identity construction and discourse analysis, particularly by focusing on ‘unmaking security’ (Huysmans 2006).

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