March 14, 2011

Security As Pacification: George Rigakos

We are told we are living in exceptional times. That the world changed after 9/11. That our age is a new age of insecurity and risk. That the police have been forced to respond in ways that are a product of this very difficult epoch. This presentation critiques these notions arguing that the concept of "security" has always trumped liberty, camouflaged domestic and international pacification and acted as a blockage to intellectual debates about social problems and potential social change. The idea of security was an Enlightenment project that quickly rose to the status of "the supreme concept of bourgeois society", eventually colonizing all aspects of commodity production and consumption, and by extension human relations. To understand security today we must deny false binaries such as liberty versus security, public versus private, soft versus hard, domestic versus international, exceptional versus normal, and civilization versus barbarism. To be against security, therefore, is to stand against the securitization of political discourse, and to challenge the authoritarian and reactionary nature of security. Instead of ever-more security, seemingly at any cost, we must fight for an alternative political language that takes us beyond the narrow horizon of capitalist insecurities and its associated police power.

Security as Pacification from negative theatre on Vimeo.

George S. Rigakos is Assistant Professor of Law at Carleton University and head of the Editorial Collective for Red Quill Books.

Sponsored by: The Institute for Criminology and Criminal Justice, The Department of Sociology and Anthropology & Critical Social Research Collaborative (CSRC)