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Critical Security Studies: Concepts and Cases

Copyright Date: 1997
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 408
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  • Book Info
    Critical Security Studies
    Book Description:

    Brings together a diverse new group of analysts seeking to explore issues of international relations and contribute to the development of a self-consciously critical perspective within security studies. “This is an exceptionally strong set of essays, with a first-rate introduction that discusses what critical security studies means, and a really provocative conclusion that ties together the book’s main themes in exemplary fashion. This is a pathbreaking book!” --Steve Smith, University of Wales, Aberyswyth Contributors: Amitav Acharya, Mohammed Ayoob, Ken Booth, Beverly Crawford, Simon Dalby, Karin M. Fierke, Bradley S. Klein, Ronnie D. Lipschutz, David Mutimer, Thomas Risse-Kappen, Peter Vale, and R. B. J. Walker.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8765-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface: Toward Critical Security Studies
    (pp. vii-xxii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
  5. PART I Conceptual Debates and Approaches

    • 1. Contesting an Essential Concept: Reading the Dilemmas in Contemporary Security Discourse
      (pp. 3-32)

      The Cold War is over, we are told, but even a casual reading and viewing of dominant Western media suggest that threats to security continue to proliferate. In the academy and in foreign-policy journals new threats are analyzed and new dangers assessed. The catalog of dangers requiring state interventions to monitor and control continues to attract analytical attention and generate expert prognoses.¹ Intelligence agencies have partly converted themselves into collectors of economic information; the discourses of competitiveness suggest that innovation is now a matter of national importance. Environmental concerns as threats to regional if not global security percolate in the...

    • 2. From Strategy to Security: Foundations of Critical Security Studies
      (pp. 33-60)

      The nature of security has become one of the most widely discussed elements in the intellectual ferment that has been triggered by the end of the Cold War. Optimists have declared that the end of the century is ushering in a new era of peace and cooperation, based variously on liberal democracy, transnational capitalism, international organizations, or a combination of the above.¹ The more pessimistic offer warnings of an anarchic future filled with intercivilizational or ethnic conflict and weapons proliferation.² Still others, less absorbed with questions of military statecraft, have focused on new threats or new understandings that require a...

    • 3 The Subject of Security
      (pp. 61-82)
      R. B. J. WALKER

      What are the conditions under which it is now possible to think, speak, and make authoritative claims about what is referred to in the language of modern politics as “security”? This is the crucial question that must be addressed, given the widely shared sense that we hardly know what we are talking about when this term rolls so easily off the tongue to circulate among the practices of modern violence.

      The most obvious answers to this question depend on the degree to which modern accounts of security have been articulated in relation to the structures and practices of the modern...

    • 4. Security and Self: Reflections of a Fallen Realist
      (pp. 83-120)

      What is being discussed in this book and this chapter is no trivial matter. It begins in a debate in which there is agreement that security is crucial, but disagreement about what security is and how it should be studied. This debate within security studies over the past few years is now largely polarizing between the post-Cold War updaters of established strategic studies and the proponents of what is now labeled—as a result of the York conference that gave birth to this book—critical security studies. It is not simply an academic dispute over professional turf—about the boundaries...

    • 5. Defining Security: A Subaltern Realist Perspective
      (pp. 121-146)

      Recent attempts at broadening the definition of the concept of security beyond its traditional realist usage have created a major dilemma for students of International Relations. On the one hand, it is clear that the traditional definition of security that has dominated the Western literature on the subject is inadequate to explain the multifaceted and multidimensional nature of the problem of security as faced by the majority of members in the international system. On the other, the often indiscriminate broadening of the definition of security threatens to make the concept so elastic as to render it useless as an analytical...

  6. PART II The Discourses of Security

    • 6 Discourses of War: Security and the Case of Yugoslavia
      (pp. 149-186)

      The agonizing war in the former Yugoslavia, the interminable parlays about what to do, the innumerable threats made and peace plans offered, retracted, and made again have all served to highlight the process by which Western decision-making elites have tried to redefine their own, and their countries’, security in the post-Cold War world. To the question, “What is to be done in Bosnia?” they have answered, “Almost nothing.” To the question, “Why?” they have answered, “Because it does not threaten us.” And, so, almost nothing has happened. In this chapter, we argue that this policy response is directly related to...

    • 7. Reimagining Security: The Metaphors of Proliferation
      (pp. 187-222)

      For forty-five years the confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union has defined the theory and practice of international security. We lived, it was assumed, in a bipolar world, with one pole in Washington and the other in Moscow. These poles oriented our thinking about security, not only between the superpowers or even in Europe, but in the world. Once the confrontation ended and the Cold War was declared over, the custodians of international security policy scrambled to make sense of a world that had lost its bearings. Their theoretical and practical compasses no longer gave direction.


    • 8. Changing Worlds of Security
      (pp. 223-252)

      In recent years scholars of International Relations have been preoccupied with redefining security, which implies that the meaning of this concept as used in the Cold War context has changed.¹ The purpose of this article is to return to the rough ground of the everyday language of the Cold War and its aftermath to trace the changes that gave rise to these definitional questions on the part of scholars. The task is not to ask how we should redefine security but, rather, what the meaning of security for actors was within this context and how this world was transformed, given...

  7. PART III World Order and Regional Imperatives

    • 9. Between a New World Order and None: Explaining the Reemergence of the United Nations in World Politics
      (pp. 255-298)

      This chapter has two purposes, one theoretical, the other empirical.¹ First, I try to show that the divide between mainstream International Relations theory and so-called critical approaches is not as deep as many authors, including some in this book, assume. In particular, I argue that competing hypotheses can be derived from sophisticated rationalist approaches to world politics as well as from social constructivist assumptions and that these propositions can well be evaluated empirically. It follows that I disagree with the commonly held argument that the rationalist-constructivist divide pertains to both ontological (that is, substantive) and epistemological assumptions, as earlier work...

    • 10. The Periphery as the Core: The Third World and Security Studies
      (pp. 299-328)

      The primary concern of this volume is to examine how the discourses and practices of security might have changed or be changing from the dominant understanding of the concept. What constitutes this dominant understanding is perhaps easily recognized. It is a notion of security rooted firmly within the realist tradition, or what Ken Booth has termed as the “intellectual hegemony” of realism.¹ During the Cold War era, its main reference point was the concept of national security. Although marked by considerable ambiguities and fuzziness,² the concept of national security did provide a dominating strand of security analysis, one that tended...

    • 11. Critical Security Studies and Regional Insecurity: The Case of Southern Africa
      (pp. 329-358)

      If critical security studies are to flourish and lead to a revisioning of security in world politics, it is necessary that they challenge traditional security studies not only at the theoretical level—where a start has already been made—but also at the empirical level in terms of dealing with what is usually called the real world. Southern Africa is a particularly interesting case with which to test the engagement of critical security studies with practical politics, given that by many indicators it can claim to be the most distressed and insecure region in contemporary world politics.

      The framework of...

    • 12. Conclusion: Every Month Is “Security Awareness Month”
      (pp. 359-368)

      The official magazine of the U.S. Department of State, appropriately—if unimaginatively—titledState,announces by way of a cover story that January 1995 is “Security Awareness Month.”¹ No small pronouncement, this is, in a post-Cold War world characterized by dozens of regional conflicts, serious threats against human rights, global warming, the worldwide migration of plagues and epidemics, the instability of incipient democracies, and the spread of nuclear armaments-development programs by aggressive countries suspected of wanton irresponsibility, if not outright terrorism. But no, it turns out that this is something much less than the state’s rethinking of a fundamental security...

  8. Contributors
    (pp. 369-372)
  9. Index
    (pp. 373-379)