(In)security and the state | Alexandra Schwell

(In)security and the state

The relation of the state and care is central to my work from the angle of security and fear. I am concerned with the way (in)security policies, media narratives, histories, imaginations, tools, infrastructures, emotionality and the like influence our everyday lives and our perception of self and other, and they make a lasting impression on how we conduct our lives and ourselves. They ask how we are governed and govern ourselves and others, and how, thereby, life chances are being limited and extended through security considerations and fantasies. In effect, the study of (in)security leads us back to one of the basic questions of cultural anthropology: the process of othering, and the quest for making and understanding the other. (In)securities are rooted in popular imaginations about identity and alterity. The study of (in)security therefore is concerned with processes of dividing and categorizing people and populations, and how these othering processes inform and pervade our lives and taken-for-granted knowledge, our emotions and affects, our ways of seeing, relating to and being in the world, and also the world around us, the infrastructures and technologies, the legislations and policies. How are people and populations throughout history and presently being categorized, ordered hierarchically, and confronted, and how is such knowledge transmitted? How does this knowledge find its way into policies, strategies, tools, infrastructure of actors across the European Union and transnationally? How does it inform our bodies and our minds? The state, its bureaucracies and agencies, and also fantasies about the state and the state idea, are pivotal elements for the study of (in)securities. 

Alexandra Schwell

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