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Security and the democratic scene: desecuritization

and emancipation
Claudia Aradau
Department of Government and Politics, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Open University, Walton
Hall, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, UK.
E-mail: C.E.Aradau@open.ac.uk

While the Copenhagen School has provided security analysts with important tools
for illuminating processes of threat construction, the reverse processes of unmaking security or desecuritization have remained seriously underspecified.
Informed by a critical sensibility, this article asks the question how can
desecuritization be thought and argues, contra the Copenhagen School, that
desecuritization has to be tackled first politically and not analytically. I show that
the dynamics of securitization/desecuritization raise questions about the type of
politics we want, whether that is democratic politics of universal norms and slow
procedures or the exceptional politics of speed and enemy exclusion. I subsequently
propose a different concept of emancipation, which is informed by the principles of
universality and recognition. This concept distances itself from both desecuritization and the equation of emancipation with security by Critical Security Studies
since it has a different logic from the non-democratic and exclusionary logic of
security and it engages more thoroughly with both democratic politics and the
conditions in which securitization becomes possible.
Journal of International Relations and Development (2004) 7, 388413.
doi:10.1057/palgrave.jird.1800030
Keywords: democracy; desecuritization; emancipation; securitization; recognition;
universality

Introduction
The 2003 United Kingdom Threat Assessment of Serious and Organized Crime
lists among the most significant threats the state is facing drug trafficking,
organized immigration crime, fraud, money laundering, (possession and use of)
firearms, hi-tech crime, and sex offences against children (National Criminal
Intelligence Service 2003).1 Most national, regional or international security
reports would read along similar lines in endorsing a proliferation of new
security threats. The Copenhagen School (CoS) of security studies has
provided scholars with important tools for conceiving of these new threats in
the theory of securitization. Coined in 1995 by Ole Wver, the concept of
Journal of International Relations and Development, 2004, 7, (388413)
r 2004 Palgrave Macmillan Ltd 1408-6980/04 $30.00

www.palgrave-journals.com/jird

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securitization was immediately regarded as a path-breaking alternative to


realist and neo-realist understandings of security, allowing for an expansion
beyond and beneath the state, and was subsequently taken up in many analyses
of threat construction, most conspicuously of migration, refugees, organized
crime, terrorism, human trafficking, or AIDS.2
The twin concept of desecuritization in the Copenhagen School framework
has received comparatively scant attention despite a shared discomfort among
security analysts about the proliferation of security issues in the post-Cold War
world. Hailed on and off as a possible alternative to securitization,
desecuritization has however remained seriously underspecified. Such undertheorization is even more puzzling given that the analysis of securitization
practices reveals them as susceptible to criticism and transformation (Williams
2003: 512). Desecuritization or the unmaking of securitization, in Jef
Huysmans felicitous formulation (1998a), has so far had minimal leverage
on securitization theory. Ole Wver (1999: 335, 2002: 49) himself has expressed
a preference for desecuritization (be it a Ceteris paribus one) only to equate it of
late with a state of asecurity,3 thus taking away the potential for transformation that the concept was meant to have.
How can desecuritization be therefore thought? This paper will argue, contra
the CoS, that desecuritization has to be first tackled politically. Although
Wver has indicated that securitization and desecuritization are political
processes, not stable formulas (Laustsen and Wver 2000: 739), the CoS lacks
a concept of politics or a clear definition of politicization. Alongside implicit
references to a Schmittian politics (Huysmans 1998b; Williams 2003), the CoS
theory is also interspersed with references to democratic politics. These
contradictory loyalties are muted in the attempt to conceive of desecuritization analytically as a conceptual tool allowing us to make sense of the processes
of threat de-construction in that sense similar to securitization. Only in the
second instance does the CoS try to derive politics from this analytical basis.
Laudable as this concern with political implications may be, it is oblivious of
the fact that our political stance is constitutive of our analysis of the world.
Moreover, political vacillation becomes translated into an analytical vacillation
between securitization and desecuritization.
This article will therefore consider how insufficient attention to politics in
the theory of securitization undermines the concept of desecuritization both
analytically and politically. Being intrinsically linked with securitization as its
mirror image, desecuritization suffers from the same contradictions that plague
the concept of securitization. The dichotomy of Schmittian/democratic politics
is located in the very dichotomy the CoS endorses between speech act and
exceptional measures. The non-choice between these two political loyalties
entails an impossible choice between securitization and desecuritization. The
CoS indecisiveness concerning the desirability of desecuritization makes it

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clear that politics is needed in the first instance and not as ulterior derivation
given that the choice between the two concepts is actually a choice about the
type of politics we want.
I shall contend that desecuritization needs to learn the lessons of the
democratic politics of emancipation. Deprived of political commitment,
desecuritization can only be a relatively sterile tool, unfit for acting upon the
world and transforming prevailing social and power relationships and the
institutions into which they are organised (Cox, quoted in Krause and
Williams 1997: xi). Emancipation itself is not a new concept in security studies
and it has been used by both Critical and (partially) by feminist security
studies. Yet, their circular definition of emancipation as security deprives the
former of its truly transformative potential. In contradistinction to this
tradition of understanding emancipation, I propose a concept of emancipation
inspired by the work of two post-Marxist French philosophers, Etienne Balibar
and Jacques Rancie`re, and subsequently present two possible strategies of
emancipation/desecuritization for societal security.4 Against the problematic
assertion that emancipation is coeval to security, their concept of emancipation
is informed by the principles of universality and recognition.
Universality and recognition likely summon the presence of two different
approaches to international politics, the poststructuralist one already
mentioned and an ethical/cosmopolitan one. The poststructuralist, Foucauldian-inspired position could be summarized as recognition against universality, while the Habermasian cosmopolitan position is in nuce recognition
through universality.5 Balibars stance is at odds with both of them and, in this
sense, raises interesting questions for the fate of the universal and struggles for
recognition in international politics. His concept of universality has a
Hegelian inspiration, always internally split, while recognition is divorced from
any link with identity. Universality is the way out from the trap of the others
particularity as dangerous. Recognition refers to the acceptance, through
discussion and argumentation, of claims made by those who would normally
be excluded from a Habermasian ideal speech situation.6 Moreover, for
Balibar (1992: 74) no democratic politics are possible without the problem of
dis-identification. However, singular this position might appear in the
landscape of theoretical International Relations, it shares with the two other
approaches a commitment to democratic politics. It also raises important
questions for the mistrust of universality or conversely, its endorsement beyond
existing institutions and proposes a different way of understanding both
emancipation and the universality of democratic politics.
The argument in this article will proceed in two stages. In the first stage, it
will focus on locating the sites of non-democratic politics within the CoS
theory of securitization and formulate them as challenges for the politics of
desecuritization. These sites are, on one hand, the Schmittian politics of

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exceptionalism, enmity and decision and, on the other, the constitution of


authority in speaking/enacting security.7 In the second stage, the article will
mirror the challenges raised in the context of the CoS and discuss the potential
of the concept of emancipation for transforming the non-democratic politics of
security. I shall focus on its theorization in security studies and contra the
CoS propose an alternative derived from Balibar and Rancie`re. Their
concept of emancipation has a different logic from the exclusionary logic of
security8 and engages more thoroughly with both democratic politics and the
conditions in which securitization can be enacted. Therefore it becomes
possible to envisage emancipatory democratic transformations of issues of
societal security.

Securitize or Desecuritize? The Dilemma of the Copenhagen School


Schmittian politics and the challenge to democracy
The CoS approach to security combines a taxonomy of sectors in which issues
can be securitized, with an understanding of the process by which issues are
raised above the normal haggling of politics (Buzan et al. 1998: 29). The latter
process is named securitization. Although the CoS seems to have been most
successful in the sectoral broadening of security,9 it is with the notion of
securitization that it has become truly innovative. Inspired by Austins theory
of speech acts, its constructivism brings dynamics to existing notions of
security. Issues are securitized by virtue of discursive construction or, as Buzan
et al. (1998: 204) put it, [s]ecurity is a quality actors inject into issues by
securitising them, which means to stage them on the political arena [y] and
then to have them accepted by a sufficient audience to sanction extraordinary
defensive moves.
This definition already contains an analytical duality which makes the choice
between the securitization and desecuritization problematic. Firstly, in line
with the linguistic turn in social sciences, securitization is a performative
speech act. Moreover, successful securitization is a felicitous speech act such as
the felicitous naming of ship or performing of a marriage. As a speech act,
securitization is defined by a specific structure internal to discourse (survival,
priority of action because if not handled now it will be too late, and we will not
exist to remedy our failure) (Buzan 1997: 14). Secondly, securitization is also
defined by the extraordinary defensive moves, the emergency actions
undertaken by institutions and various security actors. Successful securitization implies extraordinary measures, a breaking of normal political rules of the
game (e.g., in the form of secrecy, levying taxes or conscription, placing
limitations on otherwise inviolable rights, or focusing societys energy and
resources on a specific task) (Buzan et al. 1998: 24).

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These specific measures that are involved in successful securitization raise


the issue of normal vs exceptional or extraordinary politics. It is in relation to
the procedural normalcy of democracy that the exceptionalism of
securitization can be theorized.10 Although the CoS regards securitization as
analytically useful in different types of regimes where an existing threat is
voiced, the theory of securitization is mainly illustrated by the rules of a
liberaldemocratic society (Buzan et al. 1998: 24). Securitization is a
topological move from the realm of normal politics to extraordinary politics
and, in this relational understanding of exceptional vs normal politics, to the
element of urgency that securitization entails which corresponds to the slow
process of decision-making and contestation, where decisions follow strict
procedural rules, i.e. democratic politics.
Michael Saward (2003: 88) has identified three elements in the make-up of
democracy: (i) a certain degree of political equality and fairness instituted
tangibly; (ii) policies and actions as a product of popular power in some tangible
sense; (iii) basic procedures which are transparent, open to public scrutiny.
Although at no point do Buzan and Wver normatively endorse democratic
politics, their analysis of securitization is made possible in contradistinction with
the procedural rules of democratic politics. In an occasional definition of
politics, they emphasize that [i]deally, politics should be able to unfold
according to routine proceduresy (Buzan et al. 1998: 29). Huysmans (2004a)
has also recently remarked that security institutionalizes speed against the
slowness of procedures and thus questions the viability of deliberation, contest
of opinion and dissent. While the securitizing speech act has to be accepted by a
relevant audience and remains within the framework of the democratic politics
of contestation, the exceptionality of procedures is its opposite. The speed
required by the exceptional suspends the possibilities of judicial review or other
modalities of public influence upon bureaucratic or executive decisions.
Securitization re-inscribes issues in a different logic, a logic of urgency and
exceptionalism. As securitization is not simply a speech act that stages a
narrative of survival in order to attract attention, but an enactment of
exceptionalism in political life, questions about which type of politics we want
need to be asked. This exceptionalism and decisionism of the CoS processes of
securitization activates a Schmittian politics. Michael Williams (2003: 515) has
pointed out that the specificity of security as a particular kind of speech-act in
the work of the Copenhagen School is underpinned by an understanding of the
politics of enmity, decision, and emergency which has deep roots in Schmitts
understanding of political order. Huymans has also forcefully argued that
securitization leads to a re-ordering of social relations according to the logic of
political realism and has defined it as a technique of government which
retrieves the ordering force of fear of violent death by a mythical replay of
variations of the Hobbesian state of nature (Huysmans 1998a: 571).

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The exceptional politics of securitization turns into a dangerous undertaking


for democracy; even more so as the proliferation of threats risks extending
extraordinary measures and exceptional circumstances to normality.11
Andreas Behnke (2000: 91) shares in the discomfort concerning the highly
problematic strategy of securitisation as it suspends the usual democratic
process. In this context, desecuritization becomes an ethicalpolitical choice
which refuses to let democratic politics slip into exceptional politics. If the
slowness of procedures ensures the possibility of contestation, the speed
introduced by security does away with the possibility of scrutiny as well as the
expression of voice. Schmitts politics was thought of as a critique against
liberal parliamentarism, against the procedures of democracy.
The duality of securitization I have pointed out creates tension at the core of
the concept of securitization, to be replicated in desecuritization. Williams
(2003) has located the political potential of the CoS in the discursive
construction of security: an ethics of argumentation would thus be the
antidote to securitization. Desecuritization therefore becomes a matter of
different speech acts, which one could privilege depending on external,
pragmatic criteria, for example how much attention we want to capture for an
issue. Such contestation of securitizing a speech act would be consonant with
the democratic politics of transparency and public scrutiny. However, when
one takes into account the extraordinary measures and exceptional politics that
securitization is steeped in desecuritization can only be regarded as a political
choice restoring democracy. The question of desecuritization therefore
becomes one about the kind of politics we want. Do we want politics of
exceptional measures or do we want democratic politics of slow procedures
which can be contested?
Thus, although the CoS envisages securitization as part of a critical project
to shift the understanding of security from the traditional state-centric, military
definition to a constructivist broader concept, it has been reproached exactly
for its lack of a critical edge, for not engaging with the political implications of
the concept.12 This lack of a critical edge is especially manifest in its
unwillingness to decide between the dubious instrument of securitisation and
desecuritization (Wver 2000: 285). Despite misgivings about the effects of
securitization, Wver (1999) has formulated desecuritization in the relatively
a-theoretical terms of preference. This preference seems justifiable given that
securitization is often perceived as an innocuous tool which moves issues up the
political agenda. Rhetorical strategization takes over concerns with democratic
politics:
In some democratic perspective, de-securitisation is probably the ideal,
since it restores the possibility of exposing the issue to the normal haggling
and questioning of politicisation, but if one is actually concerned about

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something, securitisation is an attractive tool that one might end up using


as a political actor (Wver 2000: 251).
In a different argument, desecuritization is preferable because it would
be more effective than securitization (Wver 1995: 57). Huysmans (1998a:
57273) has read effective in instrumental or utilitarian terms. It remains unclear,
however, in exactly which sense desecuritization is more effective especially
given the attention-catching potential of securitization that they emphasize.
Arguments of effectiveness have also been made in favour of securitization. In
a recent discussion of the ethical issues raised by the securitization vs the
desecuritization of AIDS, Stefan Elbe (2004: 16) has listed as the first
advantage of a security approach the mobilization of more political support
and economic resources for addressing the AIDS pandemic. Moreover,
effectiveness is not a political, but a managerial, criterion. It cannot account
for what happens with democratic norms and procedures when a logic of
exceptionalism and urgency is instituted.

Authority against democracy


The decisionist politics of securitization also raise the issue of authority, of the
point from which such a decision can be taken. Giorgio Agamben (2003: 144)
has seen authority as the equivalent of the state of exception in the suspension
of the juridical, of the nomos. Unlike in Schmitt, the locus of security decisions
is no longer a sovereign transcendent to the political order, but is immanent to
the democracy. Securitization is linked with specific institutional and bureaucratic locales mobilising specific knowledge, which challenges the possibility of
voice and contestation of discourses. The authoritative suspension of the law is
supported by expert knowledge.
Didier Bigo has explicitly considered the constitution of authority in security
practices. The constitution of authority (for example, the authority the police
gains in dealing with security matters normally reserved for the military) is to
be understood in terms of Bourdieus convertibility of capital, with the proviso
that Bourdieus types of capital (economic, social, cultural) are replaced by
types of knowledge (Bigo 2000a: 87). Practices of security therefore exist in a
specific field, formed by actors with particular know-how and technologies,
namely the security professionals (Bigo 1996, 1998, 2000a, 2001, 2002). Just as
not any speech act is felicitous and depends on conditions both internal and
external to discourse, the practices of securitization can only be undertaken by
those endowed with the knowledge to do so. For Bigo (1996: 51, 2002: 7576)
those who speak security must have the capacity to produce a discourse on the
figure of the enemy and impose their own definition on what constitutes a
threat. The success of voices which speak security depends on the positions the

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actors hold and on the symbolic capital these are endowed with, as well as on
the capacity to produce a discourse which supports and reinforces a particular
reading of reality.13
In response to Bigo, Wver has reiterated the importance of the act at the
expense of what he calls, following Austin, the conditions of a felicitous
speech act. The three main conditions that Wver (2000: 25253) lists are: (i)
the internal construction of the security speech act as a plot with an existential
threat, a point of no return and a possible way out; (ii) the position of authority
of the securitizing actor; and (iii) conditions historically associated with the
threat. Although Wver, following Judith Butlers insight that it is possible to
speak with authority without being authorized to speak (Butler 1997: 157),
claims that authority is not essential for the success of a securitizing act, it is
difficult to see how un-authorized agents can break the normal practices of
democratic politics in any meaningful way.
His example (Wver 2000: 286, footnote 7) of environmental movements
having performed un-authorized speech acts leaves open the question of
practices which are able to account for the success/failure of a speech act. On
which arguments do environmental movements base their discourse? They
often employ alternative knowledge to counter already authorized knowledge; yet, the CoS lacks the tools to allow this possibility as securitization is
limited to the act of uttering. Williams (1997: 298) has formulated this issue of
authorization/non-authorization in a Bourdieuean voice against the CoS
approach:
A key element in understanding the politics of security is thus not simply the
linguistic and conceptual structures involved, but their position within a
specific institutional setting. The ability to speak security effectively
involves the ability to mobilise specific forms of symbolic power within the
specific institutional fields in which it operates.
The CoS has avoided issues of expert knowledge given its focus on political
actors as speakers of security in the electoral game. The dynamics the CoS has
in mind are those between political actors and their electoral audience, those
who need to be convinced of the legitimacy of a security threat. While
securitization is articulated only from a specific place, in an institutional voice,
by elites (Wver 1995: 57), these elites do not occupy a Bourdieuean field but
are the traditional political elites. The authority of security professionals differs
from social conditions regarding the position of authority for the securitizing
actor (Buzan et al. 1998: 33) inasmuch as it is not a given in a social system but
rests on the mobilizing of special techniques of expert knowledge to buttress
the institutional power of an actor. To securitize, actors come up with statistics,
relate them, establish the truth on scientific bases concerning immigration or
other societal problems such as organized crime, AIDS, or human trafficking.

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For Huysmans (2002: 42, 2004b) too, securitising migration implies the
mobilization of certain institutions, a particular kind of knowledge and specific
expectations concerning social exchanges between various social groups.
In the case of migration, Monica den Boer (1998) has shown that the
statistics apocalyptically emphasizing the criminality of immigrants are built on
the fallacy of considering a clandestine border crossing as one of the crimes for
comparison, thus illegitimately inflating the number of crimes committed by
immigrants. Migration becomes connected with crime and continuity is then
prolonged through the ethnicity of some migrants to organized crime
(Albanian, Turkish or, more generally, Eastern European migrants). Societal
threats are therefore related to what Bigo (1996: 263) has called a security
continuum based on the mobilization of specific expertise in information
gathering and sorting.
Whether securitization is linked with institutional authority or with regimes
of power/knowledge, desecuritization needs to tackle this issue and penetrate
institutionally. The security professionals institutional knowledge about
threats and the technological means to deal with such makes them impermeable to the criticism of amateurs such as non-governmental organizations,
associations, churches, spokesmen and other types of ad hoc organizations.
Bigo (2002: 74) speaks of an ethos of shared knowledge between the
professionals, a knowledge beyond the grasp of people who do not have the
know-how about risk assessment and proactivity. He has pointed out that,
despite the existence of critical discourses of securitization (especially the
securitization of migration), the articulation of migration as a security problem
continues (2002: 63).
Bigo (2002: 66) is aware that it is not directly by arguing for migrants and
against securitization that critical discourses can change the situation. What is
implicit in his criticism is the fact that challenging the securitization of
migration cannot be done in the general terms of arguing for migrants as nondangerous/good/friendly rather than dangerous/bogus/inimical. It either has to
propose alternative knowledge for how to deal with migration or other societal
issues or it has to in a Foucauldian vein expose the experts regime of
truth (Bigo 2002: 66).
Through issues of authority, non-transparent and non-democratic politics
infuse democracy itself in a series of institutional locales. The exceptionalism of
security metamorphoses into a different suspension of democratic procedures,
a suspension motivated by expert knowledge. A Foucauldian-inspired
desecuritizing move would analyze and expose the conditions in which the
authority of truth is given to a discourse (Bigo 2002: 66). A genealogical
analysis of the practices of security and sovereignty can re-open and make
contingent the assumptions with which securitization works. Such an analysis
would function only as a critique14 and the question remains of how to enact

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this difference and in doing so how to inscribe it institutionally against the


non-democratic constitution of authority.

Emancipation or Desecuritization? Yes, Please!15


Democratizing security
Emancipation is the concept that should be able to enact a radical
democratization of security. Emancipation radically tackles the concept of
democratic politics and the issue of institutional authority in claiming a voice
for the silenced, for those whom Tim Dunn and Nicholas Wheeler (2004) have
called the security have-nots. Critical security studies (CSS or the Welsh
School as Steve Smith (2000) has called it) have tried to conceptualize
emancipation as an alternative to predominant constructions of security.16
Even if CSS do not engage with the concept of desecuritization, the two
concepts are definitely related if only for their potential in establishing
alternatives to certain social practices. Unlike desecuritization, emancipation
relies on the intellectual tradition of the Frankfurt School and a critical
tradition of thinking social change and resistance.
Despite this intellectual tradition, Ken Booth claims it is impossible to say
what emancipation looks like, apart from its meaning to particular people at
particular times (Booth 1997: 110; Wyn Jones 1999: 121). In the vein of the
Frankfurt School, emancipation is intimately linked with the idea of moving
towards a better world (Wyn Jones 1999: 120). For CSS, it remains however a
highly general notion which can only be fleshed out by considering real people
in real places (Booth 1995: 123) and their insecurity predicaments. Booth
(1997: 110) is worth quoting at length here as he has written the first manifesto
of CSS and formulated the concept of emancipation to be endorsed by his
fellow critical security analysts:
[e]mancipation means freeing people, as individuals and groups, from the
social, physical, economic, political, and other constraints that stop them
from carrying out what they would freely choose to do, of which war,
poverty, oppression, and poor education are a few. Security and
emancipation are in fact two sides of the same coin. It is emancipation,
not power and order, in both theory and practice, that leads to stable
security.
The generality problem of emancipation is solved by CSS not through
recourse to various theories but by making it the equivalent of security. When
equated with security, emancipation becomes problematic as it can no longer
envisage social transformations outside the logic of security. The Welsh School
wants a radical alternative to state-centred security and proposes another type

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of security, defined as emancipation (or emancipation defined as security) at


the level of the individual. The struggle for security is re-styled as a struggle for
emancipation, without any qualms about the relationship between emancipation and security.
Critical scholars like Booth and Wyn Jones endorse both a CoS-type of
approach to security and a normative usage where security is a value to be
fought for. On one hand, Booth (1997: 111) acknowledged that security has
enormous political significance and to obtain an issue on the state agenda
means to give it priority; on the other, security is emancipation as an ideal to be
achieved. Or, in Wyn Jones formulation, [s]ecurity in the sense of the absence
of the threat of (involuntary) pain, fear, hunger, and poverty is an essential
element in the struggle for emancipation (Wyn Jones 1999: 126). In line with
this second meaning of security, Booth (1997: 114) pointed out that security
studies need to engage with the problems of those who, at this minute, are
being starved, oppressed or shot.
These uses of security forget that security itself institutes a particular kind of
politics and that it is important to be aware of the politics one legitimizes by
endorsing security. The equivalence of security and emancipation suspends the
project of making the effects of securitization explicit, of analyzing its political
effects and assumes security is worth being achieved. CSS thus inadvertently
endorse the exclusionary logic of security and the politics that is instituted by
doing security, independent of which/who is the referent object (or subject in
Booths parlance).
The dual usage of security makes the CoS half-right in arguing that CSS will
often try to mobilize other security problems environmental problems,
poverty, unemployment as more important and more threatening (Buzan
et al. 1998: 204), thereby reproducing the traditional and objectivist concept of
security. The charge of objectivist security is partly wrong because it fails to
acknowledge that the CSS project is a thoroughly political project, harnessed
to bettering the fate of the wretched of the earth. It is not a question of saying
what security is but of claiming security for those who are deprived of it. In this
sense, CSS share a radically democratic political project with feminist scholars.
Feminists have also been on the side of those who cannot voice their security
concerns, those whose experiences of danger and violence are written out of
the account (Pettman 1996: 98). They have either set out to make such
concerns audible from specific loci or have advocated, more generally, the
diminution of all forms of violence (Tickner 2001: 143). They have tirelessly
interpellated those whom Cynthia Enloe (1996: 186) metaphorically called the
margins, silences, and bottom rungs. To use Lene Hansens extended
metaphor (2000), it is the little mermaids with silent security dilemmas who
are the security have-nots in need of emancipation as they are those who
cannot utter their security concerns, those ignored by the CoS theory.17 Once

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little mermaids utter their security concerns, other little mermaids risk being
silenced.
This point about the enmity and exclusion constitutive of security has not
raised many concerns as it seems obvious that vulnerable women would utter
their insecurities against existing security articulations privileging the state or
patriarchal power relations. What happens when such an uttering of insecurity
leads to increased insecurity for other subjects of power relations? The
securitization of trafficking in women would fit the feminist logic of giving
voice to the insecurities of those who suffer at the hands of traffickers only to
be revictimized by the state as illegal immigrants and prostitutes. It has
appeared almost self-evident to activists to point out these insecurities of
trafficked women and to try to obtain protection for them (Jordan 2002). Such
a move of securing the victims of trafficking has, however, led to spiralling
insecurity for prostitutes (now subjected to increasing raids, interrogatories,
and incarceration) as well as for asylum-seekers and refugees (suspected of
having been trafficked or of being exploited).18 The Schmittian politics at the
heart of security will reiterate the logic of enmity against other others and
feminists, just like critical theorists, would need another concept to ground
their normative politics. Democratic politics is incompatible with the politics of
security as we cannot all be equal sharers of security.
Reclaiming security as both Critical and feminist security studies functions
more as a counter-securitization and not desecuritization, as this move leaves
intact the logic of security that shapes social relations. They only attempt to
shift security within the social realm and shuffle various categories of security
have-nots. Individual or human security cannot be the answer of emancipatory
politics as this would trigger the question of whose individual security is
supposed to be sacrificed. Who is to be made dangerous so that others be made
secure? On which grounds can one privilege such a construction of security, the
security of migrants over the security of racists, the security of HIV-positive
people over those at risk of being infected? The line of inquiry could be
prolonged by many other examples. Huysmans has also argued that it is
difficult to employ security in an emancipatory way in the context of societal
questions as the security formation in this field is a conservative one with
strong roots in a vulgarised Hobbesian version of the human condition
(2002: 60).
At this point it is important to remind ourselves of Rob Walkers insight
(1997: 78) that it is only in the context of the subject of security that it is
possible to envisage a critical discourse about security, a discourse which
engages with contemporary transformations of political life, with emerging
accounts of who we might become, and the conditions under which we might
become other than we are now without destroying others, ourselves, or the
planet on which we all live.19 A new concept to unmake security has to make

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sense of this concomitant relation between becoming-other and not destroying


others. Such un-making of security becomes a process of re-thinking the
relation between subjects of security, and of imagining localized, less
exclusionary and violent forms of interaction. Behnke (2000: 21) has also
pointed out that what is needed is safeguarding the coexistence and intercourse
of strangers, rather than the separation of friends from enemies.
The only discerning thought on the possibility of such a desecuritizing move
is probably Huysmans political aesthetics of everydaynessy [which] defines
the public, political sphere in terms of the complexity and plurality of daily
human practices (1998a: 588). What is implicit in his endorsement of an
aesthetics of everydayness is a flexibility of subjectivities, the possibility to
challenge what is constructed as dangerous. In a Foucauldian understanding of
power as traversing social relations and thus percolating everydayness,
everyday life cannot however be an uncorrupted life that either precedes or
confronts strategies of power.
Even if strategies of resistance are part of everyday interactions and subject
relations are being negotiated at the everyday level, everyday life is also
necessarily linked with the reproduction of hegemonic structures. To
paraphrase Slavoj Zizek (1992: 49), securitization is only successful when it
finds its support in everyday life, when even the facts which at first sight seem
to contradict it start working in its favour. The appeal to everydayness is
fraught with dangers as securitization itself can find its legitimization in
practices of everyday life. The securitization of migration creates and
subsequently legitimizes itself on the basis of everyday fears, such as the fear
of crime.
If desecuritization cannot find support in everydayness against institutional
authority, then how can it democratize it? Desecuritization as the
democratic challenge to the non-democratic politics of securitization has to
be inscribed institutionally and needs to create a different relation from the
one of enmity, a relation which is not rooted in the exclusionary logic of
security.20 The poststructuralist take on modifying the self/other relation is
based on an injunction for the subject to become-less-threatening-to-the-other
or more open to difference. The poststructuralist project attempts to imagine
a world in which a given field of identities might hope to recognize
differences without being internally compelled to define some of them
as forms of otherness to be conquered, assimilated or defiled (Connolly
1991: 48). To put it in pragmatic terms, it is unclear how Connollys
injunction could reach the bureaucratic field where security is carried out. At
the same time, such a project of openness to difference would do away with
the possibility of discriminating between different categories of others and
would make one unable to engage in a project that would, for example,
directly speak against racism.21

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Democracy against security: universality and recognition


The final question that the emancipatory project confronts is how it can
suspend the exclusionary logic of security without losing all possibility of
discriminating among others, or of fighting fascism for example?22 I have
suggested that a poststructuralist form of agonism between closure and
disturbance, naturalisation and denaturalisation (Campbell 1998: 227) cannot
be translated politically to counter questions of racism vs claims for minority
rights. The agonism of difference resides everywhere and one cannot privilege
one constructed difference over another (poststructuralists often need to
invoke other concepts to make a political choice).
Similarly, security, with its logic of existential threat, survival and political
realism can be indefinitely reversed to securitize other referent objects. In this
sense, the Welsh School equation emancipation is security buys into this logic
of replacing one referent object/subject by another. CSS have got their
equation wrong as it is security that needs to be struggled against by appealing
to the concept of emancipation, a concept informed by a logic opposed to the
logic of security. The concept of emancipation as formulated by Etienne
Balibar and Jacques Rancie`re provides a different answer to the challenges of
the non-democratic politics of securitization and how to transform it.
In this tradition, emancipation is linked to democratic politics, extensively
defined in terms of equality and fairness, voice and slow procedures open to
public scrutiny. Emancipation is infused by a fidelity to democratic politics,
to the possibility of contestation and the openness of the locus of power.
Secondly, emancipation engages with the question of authority and how to
democratize institutional loci by invoking universal principles already present
in a democratic regime. As Rancie`re (1995: 100) has put it, struggles for
emancipation produce inscriptions of equality and involve arguments about
existing inscriptions. It invokes already existing principles against bureaucratic
decision-making. Thirdly, emancipation activates a different logic based on
universal address and recognition. Such a logic disrupts the exclusionary logic
of security and, at the same time, furnishes a principle upon which a new
relationality with the other can be conceived.
This insight that the logic of emancipation needs to be different from the
logic of security was already present in Booths early account of emancipation.
For him, emancipation has to take precedence over concerns with power and
order, given the inherent fragile nature of formations of power which are
always at the expense of somebody (Booth 1991: 319). Although Booth does
not take his formulation any further, the question that arises is whether
emancipation can be at nobodys expense. As the previous discussion has
indicated, security cannot be one of the values invoked as its logic is precisely
one of discrimination, of creating hierarchies of subjects who need to be

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secured. Emancipation suspends the moving line of insecurity and refuses to


pursue the logic of who is to be made insecure so that certain subjects can be
made secure. This does not mean that emancipation aims at a final
restructuring of society, devoid of power relations. Booths claim that
emancipation is a process resonates with Wvers definition of desecuritization as situational, oriented to the handling of specifics (Wver 2000: 284).
While any political project of unmaking security remains a local and singular
process of creating alternative societal relations, it can only be effective if it
suspends the logic of vulnerabilities (Buzan et al. 1998) upon which
securitization is built. The logic of security is particularized, it is intelligible
only in relation to the vulnerability of the self.
How is this different logic of emancipation translated in practical terms?
For Balibar (2002), no one can be emancipated by an external decision. It
is those who have been considered dangerous who need to speak to re-shape
the relations that institutions have fixed along the lines of security. They need
to impose a rational obligation upon the others to recognise them (Rancie`re
1995: 50). There is therefore an argumentative dimension to desecuritization.
Unlike the Habermasian trust in the universality of communicative action,
the problem pointed out here is that the gates of communication need to be
opened first, sometimes forcefully.23 Dangerous others are not legitimate
discussion partners and argumentative ethics simply does not consider them.
What is first needed is a process of dis-identification, a rupture from the
assigned identity and a partaking of a universal principle. Thus, women are
not women but equal citizens. Migrants are not migrants but workers with
equal rights.
The concept of universality considered by Balibar is different from the one
implied by those who embrace a cosmopolitan ethics in International
Relations. Whether of Kantian or Habermasian extract, cosmopolitanism
finds universality best suited to the identity of world citizens, not to that of
citizens of a particular state that has to maintain itself against other states
(Habermas, quoted in Fine and Smith 2003: 470). Such a concept of
universality is however of worldly inspiration it is instead linked with
globalization, with a sort of extensional idea of universality that encompasses
more and more world citizens. This is what Balibar (2002) defines as real
universality in his analysis of the ambiguities of the concept of universality.
Despite the undeniable changes to our life-world entails the universalization of
minority status, it has however had little impact on existing securitizations
the securitization of migration, for example, continues and terrorism
flourishes, despite what Balibar calls the universalization of minority status.
In his bleak assessment, this universalization means that [i]dentities are more
isolated and less incompatible, less univocal and more antagonistic (Balibar
2002: 155).

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The concept I invoke here is fictive universality. Balibar, taking up Hegel,


argues that such universality is always embodied in a particularity. There is
always a split between the universal and the concrete universal. Both these
concepts are subsumed to his superb formulation that universalisation as such
appears to be inseparable from procedures of exclusion (Balibar 2004: 314).
This assertion could at first sight appear at odds with my claim against the
exclusionary logic of security. Yet, it is the very crack in the universal, in
Zizeks parlance, that allows for transformation and emancipation. The right
to vote, for example, was equated at some point with the concrete universal of
man to the exclusion of women. Such a move can be denounced as the falsity of
the universal24 or it can be the springboard for emancipatory politics. Women
have argued exactly against the equivalence of the universality of citizenship
with men. Emancipation is therefore the very point where the two inverse
movements of inclusion and exclusion meet and contradict each other (Balibar
2004: 61).
By invoking a universal principle, such a move avoids the exclusionary trap
of securitization and addresses everybody in the community, without
difference. Emancipation, Rancie`re (1995: 49) has pointed out is not secession,
but self-affirmation as a joint-sharer in a common world. This does not mean
that emancipation is consensual, but that the struggle is fought in terms of the
superior values of the community, such as the legal and ethical values of the
state itself (Balibar 2002: 161). These values (for example, justice, equality, and
rights) concern every member of the community indiscriminately.
Emancipation cannot be formulated in terms of particularistic values that
would create another split in the community and Mohammed Ayoob (1997:
127) is right to warn that, for instance, interpreted as the right of every ethnic
group to self-determination, emancipation can turn out to be a recipe for grave
disorder and anarchy. Balibar (2002: 6) has emphasized that the history of
struggles for emancipation is not one of demanding unknown rights but one of
enjoying rights which have already been declared. In line with the argument
considered here is Virginie Guiraudons argument (2000: 25859) that the
constraints on restrictive migration policy are to be found in domestic
constitutional principles (equality before the law, fundamental rights), general
legal principles (due process, proportionality), national jurisprudence and
law.25
The struggle for emancipation therefore needs to show a gap or contradiction between these official principles and the actual practice which
excludes, by making them dangerous, pathological, abnormal, other groups.
The main such principle in the life of democratic societies is that of equal
citizens and the rights that ensue therefrom. Thus, against the security logic
that has declared that all suspected terrorists are to be demoted from their
status as citizens, the logic of equal citizenship has claimed rights of legal

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process and freedom. By virtue of their being universally applicable, such rights
can be reclaimed by those particular categories which are excluded from it.
Those who are insecure can challenge the logic of security by claiming rights
that are universally bestowed, but not applicable in practice to a specific
category.
In terms of societal threats, such a project of emancipation would reactivate
a principle of equal rights for all citizens. Any claim made by minorities, for
example, for studying and having institutional access in their own language
should not be made in terms of claims to autonomy or secession, but rather in
terms of the constitutional rights that already exist and which concern equally
and indifferently all citizens. Although Paul Roe (2004) has recently argued,
following Will Kymlicka, that managing minority issues imposes a requirement upon the state to live with the prospect of secession, my contention is that
minority rights cannot be framed in particularistic terms, such as difference of
culture and identity. Moreover, emancipation is not a privilege of the state, but
the struggle is fought against the states practices of domination and
securitization.26
Any struggle for minority rights is instead to be phrased in terms of already
existing constitutional rights which address everybody.27 Such rights as the
right to study in ones language are generally applicable and yet a certain part
of society has been excluded from enjoying this right. Minority issues would
thus not risk flaring up into security issues. Rather than creating a dynamics of
friend/enemy, such a strategy sets in a place a solidarity of different parts of
society as the respect of the universally valid constitutional rights concerns
everybody.
The principles that are already given such as equality for example
cannot however be claimed by those who are not recognized as members of the
community. The binary strategy in which those excluded from the universal
claim inclusion against authority needs to be modified. The emancipatory
strategy discussed so far concerns those who are an integral part of the political
community. It is only these people who can fulfil the two criteria that Balibar
sets for emancipation: recognition and universality. The other emancipatory
strategy considers the other other, the one who does not belong to the
political community or is not acknowledged in terms of belonging. This
category simply refers to those others who are too removed from us for
political identification to be possible, those who are not part of our political
community. Thus, migrants, refugees, people in Bosnia, those who are not part
of a Western political community, for example, cannot give rise to the
emancipatory strategy I have shown.
What happens when the dangerous, risky others have no place in the
community and they can make no claim to the rights of citizenship or other
rights equally bestowed to all members of the community? The answer does not

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lie in invoking a higher human community. The very idea of human


community is also exclusionary, with people from ex-Yugoslavia (or terrorists
for that matter) being considered as less than human.28 A strategy of
emancipation needs to create a political link with the other, with the cause of
the other as Rancie`re (1998, 2001) has called it. Invoking a common essence of
humanity does not create such a politics which would emphasize and contest
forms of exclusion. Despite the suffering of people in Bosnia, no such link has
been created, not even particular instances of politics that would, for example,
place a bond with the raped women of Bosnia under the banner of the womens
movement (Rancie`re 1999: 138).
How can an emancipatory strategy function in the absence of any such link?
According to Rancie`re, it has to be a ternary strategy.29 It establishes a political
link with the other, not in the form of exclusion, but in the form of challenging
practices that states adopt towards these others. It therefore involves our
relation with the non-democratic institutional practices and only indirectly the
other. What this strategy questions is the relation between members of the
political community and practices of their institutions/state, practices undertaken in our name. Such practices can concern the detention of refugees in
camps, the deportation of people who have been working and living here, or
other practices that institutions employ with regard to those who are not
members of the community.
In this case too, emancipation functions as a strategy of dis-identification.
The London anti-war march under the banner Not in our name is indicative
of such a strategy of dis-identification from state practices. The marchers held
the state accountable and attempted to change some of these practices. The
main point of such a strategy is not to give voice to the suffering of the other or
speak in their name but to involve a contestation of state or non-democratic
institutional practices. This second strategy can also function by including
those who are constructed as threatening in the political community and thus
activating the first strategy. Rancie`res argument about migrant rights concerns
renaming the migrant as a worker because work makes the immigrant part of
the political community rather than a threatening outsider (1999: 118).

Conclusion and the Scene of Migration


In this article, I have argued for a politics of emancipation which would
unmake securitization and its non-democratic, exceptional and exclusionary
logic. The under-theorized concept of desecuritization should be re-worked
through a politics of emancipation as democratic politics. Coined by Wver as
the necessary supplement or challenge to securitization, desecuritization has
often been dealt with as an excess of the theory of securitization. The CoS has

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conceived desecuritization in relatively a-theoretical terms, as a preference


Ceteris paribus, deprived of any political sting. Confronted with proliferating
threat constructions in current world affairs, it is imperative to rethink how
to un-make practices of security. Sharpening the analytical tools as the CoS
has purported to do is not a responsible undertaking (one should consider the
legitimating effect that the securitization approach can entail for the speakers
of security) and I have shown that politics always comes back even in the
CoS analytical framework. In Slavoj Zizeks terms, desecuritization is not
the excess of securitization but it becomes the symptom of its failure to be
political.
I have first shown that the CoS has a political problem in its inability to
take a normative stance between securitization and desecuritization. This
wavering is due to a scholarly desire to keep desecuritization analytical, like
with securitization. An inconsistency in the theorization of securitization
reveals the impossibility to think of security only analytically, outside any
political project. As both a performative speech act and a series of
extraordinary practices which break the rules of normal politics, securitization
brings together a benign mobilization of attention and funds on one hand and,
on the other, an exceptionalism that is unsettling for democratic politics.
If securitization orders social relations according to the logic of political
realism and institutionalizes an exceptionalism of speed, extraordinary
measures and friend/enemy, desecuritization is a normative project which
reclaims a notion of democratic politics where the struggle for emancipation is
possible. To do so, it not only has to tackle the politics of enmity and
exceptionalism that securitization institutes, but also its decisionist facet.
Securitization is enacted through the non-democratic constitution of authority
in various institutional locales, where decisions about the dangerous are made
and put into practice.
Against the exclusionary and non-democratic logic of security, the politics of
emancipation proposed here activates formal principles that refer to all
members of the community indiscriminately and from which certain categories
have been de facto excluded. By invoking democratic inscriptions such
struggles also short-circuit institutional expert knowledge. Subjects of
emancipation cannot mobilize equal knowledge of their own, they cannot
devise alternative statistics or counter-prevention methods, but they can argue
that universal principles of democracy can apply to them, as the illustration of
minority rights has indicated.
However, the securitization of societal issues most often concerns an-other
who is not part of a community or is no longer recognized as such: refugees,
migrants, trafficked women, or even AIDS-infected persons are subject to the
exclusionary logic of security. These people are not able to directly invoke the
principles of democracy that govern the community and the strategy of

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emancipation pursued is ternary rather than binary. It is those that belong to


the political community that can dis-identify from the institutional practices
which have turned others into dangerous others and argue for a contrastive
form of identification. Migrants would thus not be simply migrants, but
workers, an identification at odds with the exclusionary practices of migrants
and formulating a strategy of inclusion, be it only partial. Such a claim has
been made by organizations for the rights of refugees and trade unions of
refugees in the UK.30
Similar fights arising from the dis-identification from the sociological
category of the migrant and partaking in a community of workers are ongoing
in the European Union (EU). Against decisions by a member-state to exclude
Polish, Czech and Bulgarian citizens as illegal migrants, the nationals of
Central and Eastern European States have claimed the right of residence before
the European Court of Justice, on the basis of European Agreements signed by
the EU.31 Higher universal principles are hereby invoked and the exclusion
from rights is challenged. Migrants do not claim rights as migrants, the very
concept of illegal migration is constituted as dangerous by challenging the
sovereign ability of states to control their borders and adjudicate membership
in the political community. They claim rights as self-employed, therefore as
part of a continually transforming European community.
Most struggles for the emancipation of migrants combine in some form the
two strategies as the societally dangerous other is and at the same time is not
member of the community. The logic of securitization can subject even
members of the community to forms of exclusion which put in question their
membership and possibility to invoke universal rights (as in the case of
suspected terrorists). Members of the political community can become hostis
judicatus, involving a bare life as they are deprived of any recourse to their civic
rights (Agamben 2003).
Migrants, however, are not recognized as part of the community; yet they
are there, they are part of the community simply by virtue of their being
there. They are therefore able to organize themselves in trade unions, for
example, and claim rights that invoke the universality of work against the
particularism of citizenship and recognition by other workers. Like other
emancipatory struggles, the fight for the desecuritization of migration is
fought both against extraordinary measures (deportation, internment in
camps), the exclusionary measures dictated by the logic of security and in the
name of a new form of solidarity and relation to the community. However
dispersed these local struggles might seem, they are part of the common
struggle against the migrants exclusion by the non-democratic politics
of securitization. They also gradually affect the concept of universality and
re-define national and supra-national political communities along more
democratic and inclusive lines.

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Notes
1 I would especially like to thank Jef Huysmans for his patience with numerous versions of this
article and stimulating discussions, as well as Michael Merlingen and Raia Prokhovnik for
comments. The editors and reviewers have offered valuable suggestions.
2 For an overview, see Terry Terriff et al. (1999).
3 I disagree with Michael Williams that desecuritization is equivalent to asecurity (2003).
Desecuritization is processual, while asecurity refers to a state deprived of the dynamics that
turns security issues into different types of issues.
4 The work of Etienne Balibar and Jacques Rancie`re is especially interesting as they closely engage
issues of migration or racism. See Rancie`re (1999), Balibar (1992). Societal security has been a
stumbling block for the theory of securitization as it brought home the necessity to consider its
political implications and the relation to desecuritization.
5 For the first position, see for example Cynthia Enloe (1996). For the second, see Andrew
Linklater (1996).
6 Robert Fine and Will Smith have called them the pariah people, those who have little or no
possibility of participating in rational discourses or in the forms of communication necessary for
reasonable will-formation (2003: 475).
7 This second site of non-democratic politics is inspired by Didier Bigos criticism of how the CoS
defines the speech act (2002) or, to paraphrase Jef Huysmans article in the same issue (2002),
how they fail to embed discourse.
8 By logic of security I mean the ordering function (Huysmans 1998b) that security performs
and not the rhetorical grammar of securitization.
9 In the Security Framework, the CoS has identified five sectors of security: military, political,
societal, economic, and environmental. Laustsen and Wver (2000) recently argued for another
possible sector of security: religion. Sectoral differentiation serves to distinguish between referent
structures of securitization (societal securitization will tackle identity, while military security is
concerned with state survival) and makes sense of the post-Cold War proliferation of threats.
Although I agree with Bigos objection (1998) to the analytical distinction between state and society
as referent objects of security (according to him, the distinction does not exist in the discourses of
security professionals), the securitizations discussed in this article could be largely defined as
societal. This choice is not only motivated by societal security being the most problematic sector for
the political effects of securitization, but also by my particular interest in the issue of migration.
For a theoretical argument on the dedifferentiation of state and society, see Iver Neumann (1998).
10 On the exceptionalism of security according to a Schmittian logic, see especially Huysmans
(1998a, 1998b, 2004a) and Williams (2003).
11 Giorgio Agamben (1999: 50) warned against the dangers of a normalized exception. The
normalization of exceptional politics risks undermining the values of liberal democracies.
12 See the debate in Cooperation and Conflict, especially Johan Eriksson (1999) and Ole Wvers
reply (1999).
13 For the purposes of this article, I bracket the second criticism that Bigo names, namely that
expert knowledge is risk knowledge. For a follow-up on the link between security and risk, see
Bigo (2000b, 2002), Huysmans (2002), and Aradau (2003a, 2004).
14 For Foucault (1988: 154), critique is not a matter of saying that things are not right as they are.
It is a matter of pointing out on what kinds of assumptions, what kinds of unfamiliar,
unchallenged, unconsidered modes of thought the practices that we accept rest.
15 Slavoj Zizek (2000: 90) uses the Freudian Yes, please! reply to a question that requires a choice
between two alternatives as a refusal of choice. In this case, the alternative of desecuritization or
emancipation is a false alternative as a politics of desecuritization can only be understood by
means of a politics of emancipation.

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16 I refer here to the Critical security studies (capital C) and not to critical security studies for
which Keith Krause and Michael Williams have written a persuasive manifesto (1997).
17 Lene Hansen does not, however, join the feminists in endorsing emancipation but tries to bring
Judith Butlers insights into the CoS. In claiming security for those who do not have it, Hansen
follows the feminist tradition of emancipation as security, even if not theoretically engaging
with the concept of emancipation.
18 For the insecurity concerns of prostitutes, see Adams (2003) expressing the views of the English
Collective of Prostitutes and Legal Action for Women (UK). Doezema (1998) offered a
persuasive theoretical account of how the in-securing of sex workers functions. Turned into
innocent passive victims, trafficked women are to be protected at the expense of dirty whores
who are to be policed and punished. Her discontent concerns the ignorance of the prostitutes
human rights and the false divisions representations of trafficking create among sex workers.
19 On the subject of security, see also Hansen (2000) and McSweeney (1999).
20 Wvers (1998) contribution to Security Communities makes the case for a desecuritization
without others. Post-war Europe can become desecuritized given the securitization of its past (as
fragmentation). Wver refutes a process of othering by Europe. What he discusses, however, is
specifically the desecuritization of hard core security patterns and only suggests that Europe has
become the locus for non-military threats. It is thus not that Europe is not othering anymore,
but that Europes others are not necessarily military others as state security has been displaced
to the societal sector. See also Buzan and Wver (2003: chapter 11).
21 Poststructuralists would be hostile to the idea of discriminating between others (Campbell 1992;
Behnke 1999). Yet, they also need to appeal to another concept to back up their politics if they
have to deal with racism or fascism, for example. The old liberal notion of tolerance would help
poststructuralists narrow down their politics in a more progressive way.
22 The necessity of discriminating between security issues led Neumann (1998) to coin the concept
of violization to refer to violent actions which have a material character (e.g. the outbreak of
war) and restrict securitization to violence which is wrought by structural factors and by speech
acts.
23 Thomas Risse (2000) has discussed the implications of Habermas communicative action for
International Relations.
24 On the false universality approach, see Butler (2000).
25 Virginie Guiraudons general argument for a less restrictive migration policy is problematically
based on a restriction of democracy by privileging restricted loci of debate or venues where
bureaucrats are not encumbered by electoral pressures and can become policy entrepreneurs.
For a very pertinent discussion of Guiraudon, see Huysmans (2000: 16365).
26 For a discussion of the desecuritizing project of the liberal state, see Aradau (2003b).
27 This can, however, become problematic when ethnic particularism has been inscribed in
constitutional documents to the exclusion of other ethnic groups, such as in the case of the exYugoslav Republics. In this case, the political struggle has to be fought first in terms of the
universality of the political community of the nation-state. The second emancipatory strategy I
shall discuss would be more appropriate in this case.
28 The atrocities committed in ex-Yugoslavia are seen as no different from the atrocities committed
by terrorists or the Nazis, thus excluding them from the shared humanity. The only response
they trigger is horror, the feeling characteristic of an encounter with the inhuman.
29 I borrow here from Rancie`res analysis of the Algerian case. At the time of the Algerian War,
the French police threw the bodies of Algerian militants in the Seine. French citizens then
accused their government of having removed the bodies, of having made them invisible
(Rancie`re 1999: 13839; 1998). Although Algerians have a claim to belonging to the French
community on the basis of citoyennete, what is of interest for me is the strategy of disidentification from the practices of the French state.

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30 Personal communication at the London Social Forum with a representative of the Latin
American Workers Association, 3 October, 2003, London School of Economics.
31 The Gloszczuk, Kondova, Barkovici and Malik, and Jany cases (C-63/69, C-235/99, C-257/99,
C-268/99, respectively).

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About the Author


Claudia Aradau is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Government and
Politics at the Open University. She is writing her dissertation on emancipatory
politics, political agency and subjectivity in relation to trafficking in women.
She has recently published on those issues in Canadian Woman Studies/Cahiers
de la Femme and Millennium: Journal of International Studies.