Poststructuralist Approaches to Security

Authored by: Claudia Aradau , Rens van Munster

Routledge Handbook of Security Studies

Print publication date:  July  2016
Online publication date:  July  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138803930
eBook ISBN: 9781315753393
Adobe ISBN: 9781317620921


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Since the early 1990s, the field of Security Studies has witnessed the growth of poststructuralist approaches to security (Buzan and Hansen 2009). Drawing largely on ideas and concepts from political theory, continental philosophy, and sociology, poststructuralist approaches have inspired an understanding of security not as ‘a noun that names things’ but ‘as a principle of formation that does things’ (Dillon 1996: 16), where the central objective is not to define what security is but to interrogate security as a form of productive power that makes reality intelligible and actionable in particular ways. The central point of departure in poststructuralist approaches to security is that representations of threats define the relationship between self and other as antagonistic, which in turn justifies violent practices and calls for the restriction of democratic principles and political agency. For these reasons, poststructuralists are generally critical of security and instead want to stimulate a wider process of reflection and action leading to different understandings of social and political relations, which do not imply a self/other antagonism. One of the main concerns for poststructuralist thinkers has therefore been how to resist security, unmake its practices, and challenge its exclusionary logic (Huysmans 2014).

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