Call for Papers: Technosecurity Cultures

Science as Culture (SaC) special issue: call for papers
Guest Editors: Jutta Weber and Katrin M. Kämpf

‘Security’ has gained a central place in contemporary societies preoccupied with dangers to their future. Policymakers, researchers and mass media increasingly address a broad range of societal issues—from migration and border control to crime or public health—as ‘security’ problems. Various technologies are promoted as solutions to the growing demand for security (Ericson and Haggerty 2006; Bröckling et al. 2010).

This tendency has been analysed as a securitization process since the end of the Cold War. New ‘threat‘ scenarios justified ‘defence‘ measures, especially the expansion of military forces. Through a broader securitisation process, moreover, claims of existential threats to society justify urgent extraordinary measures (Buzan et al., 1998: 24-­‐25; Balzacq et al. 2010; Waever 1995). As means ‘to manage dangerous irruptions in the future’, this strategy invests in technosecurity architectures and extensive risk-­‐management techniques (Aradau and van Munster 2007). Indeed, ‘risk’ itself becomes a governance tool as well as a problem-­‐diagnosis (Dillon 2008; Aradau et al. 2008).

Security discourses and practices focus less on an empirical, causal assessment of threats (Aradau et al. 2008). Instead they elaborate an anticipatory maximum techno-­‐security (Mattelart 2010), e.g. by urging the pre-­‐emption of ‘unknown unknowns’ (Daase and Kessler 2007). The shift in security – from a proactive to a pre-­‐emptive and preventive mode – coincides with a search for technological superiority (Grusin 2010).

An entire ‘society of security‘ has been facilitated by advances in surveillance technology and computer systems, handling large databases on entire populations or on specific transitory groups seen as suspicious or threatening. In techno-­‐security culture, the invocation of such ‘dangers’ justifies greater control over everyone‘s lives. Security has been turned into a multi-­‐fold, dynamic and complex sociopolitical practice (Holert and Terkessidis 2003; Balzacq et al. 2010). Beyond institutions and policy makers, many different agents—not just humans, but also algorithms, concepts, machines, or cyborgs—produce meanings, norms and ways of governing (Weber 2014). Thus techno-­‐security cultures are a multi-­‐agential process shaping knowledge, policies, power relations and experience around ‘insecurity’ problems. There is a large body of research on securitization, pre-­‐emption and risk (Aas et al. 2009; Amoore 2013; Aradau 2010; Dillon 2008; Lemke 2011a/b; Pugliese 2010). Going further, we call for approaches to technosecurity combining different fields – Science and Technology Studies (or Software Studies) with Critical Security, Governmentality Studies and/or Cultural Studies. These approaches scrutinize power relations and governance modes. They can help to analyse technosecurity as a multi-­‐agential sociopolitical, cultural process.

Relevant fields of investigation include:

  • Social sorting mechanisms embedded in algorithms, databases, border control procedures, security architectures, predictive policing, bio-security or bio-criminology
  • Biopolitics of border securitization technologies
  • Critical examination of bio-, and neuro-criminology technologies
  • The biopolitical implications of surveillance medicine in processes of securitization
  • The technologies used to classify populations as at risk or as a risk
  • Detailed analyses of the deployment of risk
  • Attempts to pre-mediate security via algorithms, technologies, software

Abstracts and papers must follow the SaC guidelines, or else they will be returned to the author:

Abstracts should be sent by 01.08.2015, as a basis to advise contributors on the focus of papers. Full papers should be sent by March 2016, though earlier submissions would be helpful. Maximum length 7000 words; the revision may be given a longer limit.

Contact: Katrin M. Kämpf, kmkaempf@mail.uni-­

Aas, Katja Franco / Gundhus, Helene Oppen/Lomell, Heidi Mork (eds.): Technologies of InSecurity. The Surveillance of Everyday Life. Routledge-Cavendish: Abingdon 2009
Amoore, Louise: The Politics of Possibility. Risk and Security Beyond Probability. Duke University Press: Durham and London 2013
Aradau, Claudia / Lobo-Guerrero, Luis / Van Munster, Rens (eds.): Security, Technologies of Risk, and the Political: Guest Editors’ Introduction, Security Dialogue 39, 147–154, 2008
Aradau, Claudia: Security that matters: Critical infrastructure and objects of protection. Security Dialogue 41 (5), 491–514, 2010
Aradau, Claudia / Van Munster, Rens: Governing terrorism through risk: Taking precautions, (un)knowing the future, European Journal of International Relations 13 (1), 89–115, 2007,
Balzacq, Thierry / Basaran, Tugba / Bigo, Didier / Guittet, Emmanuel-Pierre / Olsson, Christian: Security Practices, International Studies Encyclopedia Online, 18 March 2010, 659718_ss1-2
Buzan, B., Wæver, O. and de Wilde, J. Security: A New Framework for Analysis. Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1998.
Daase, C. / Kessler, O.: Knowns and Unknowns in the `War on Terror’: Uncertainty and the Political Construction of Danger. Security Dialogue 38 (4), 411–34, 2007
Dillon, Michael: Underwriting Security. Security Dialogue 39 (2–3), 309–32, 2008
Ericson, Richard V. / Haggerty, Kevin D. (eds.): The New Politics of Surveillance and Visibility. Green College Thematic Lecture Series. Toronto: University of Toronto Press 2006
Grusin, Richard: Premediation: Affect and Mediality After 9/11. Palgrave Macmillan: New York 2010
Bröckling, Ulrich / Hempel, Leon / Krasmann, Susanne / Bröckling, Ulrich (eds): Sichtbarkeitsregime: Ueberwachung, Sicherheit und Privatheit im 21. Jahrhundert. Wiesbaden: VS Verl. für Sozialwissenschaften, 2010
Lemke, Thomas: Biopolitics: An Advanced Introduction. New York University Press: New York 2011a
Lemke, Thomas: Beyond Foucault. From Biopolitics to the Government of Life. In: Bröckling, Ulrich/Krasmann, Susanne / Lemke, Thomas (eds.): Governmentality: Current Issues and future challenges. Routledge: New York 2011b
Mattelart, Armand: The Globalization of Surveillance: the origin of the securitarian order. Cambridge: Polity, 2010
Pugliese, John: Biometrics. Bodies, Technologies, Biopolitics. Routledge: New York 2010
Waever, O. Securitization and Desecuritization. In On Security, ed. by R. Lipschutz. New York 44–86, 1995
Weber, Jutta: Wild Cards. Techno-Security und die systematische Imagination unwahrscheinlicher Katastrophen. Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaft, 83-97, 2014

Call for Papers as PDF