Call for abstract. Special Security Dialogue issue on “Doing and Mediating Critique”. Guest editors: Jonathan Luke Austin (The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva) and Rocco Bellanova (Peace Research Institute Oslo & Université Saint-Louis, Bruxelles) Mareile Kaufmann (University of Oslo).
Please submit your abstract by 1 December 2016 to email@example.com.
First full draft should be submitted online at our digital platform Sagetrack by 1 April 2017.
All questions or concerns should be directed to the Managing Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What does it mean to study security from a critical perspective? This question has preoccupied Critical Security Studies (CSS) since its beginnings, and continues to do so. Conversations about normative stances, political engagement, and the role of critique are a mainstay of the discipline. Such scholarly debate is a sign of vibrant commitment to the exercise of reflexivity. Nonetheless, this conversation has tended to revolve around a rather too disembodied image of doing research, where the everyday practice of researchers is often side-lined. Yet, researchers do do research: they work materially, socially, and cognitively. They select sources, they engage with their research objects, they publish analyses, they teach classes, they speak publicly, etc. As such, researchers are mediating nodes between various circulations, feedback loops, translations, or fields of critique.
This special issue focuses on the practices of doing and mediating critique within CSS. Doing and mediating refersto the ways in which researchers are both consumers of ‘sources’,such as interviews, reports, and other scholarly publications, but also producers of ‘sources’ when their work becomes a textual, visual, and/or material artifact. Traditionally, this has been a privileged position. Critical academics have seen themselves as ‘leading the way’ in the doing and mediating of critique. This is particularly true within security studies where much of the post-Cold War content of the very concept of ‘security’ was redefined and propagated by scholars working within CSS.
Today, however, critique is exercised in many different sites and forms. Traditional academic outlets and publications are no longer stand-alone channels of scientific communication through which critique is mediated. This is particularly true for security-related domains, where non-academic modes of critique are challenging and complementing academic ones: leaks of classified information, whistleblowers revealing war crimes, activists leading campaigns against discrimination, movies and TV shows about the War on Terrorism, and far beyond. Increasingly, CSS scholars are themselves inspired by these non-academic sources of critique and have begun to replicate the form of those inspirational sources, thus going far beyond the traditional format of the monograph or the scientific article.
Focusing on these shifts in the doing and mediating of critique, the special issue will address the following sets of questions:
- How have the traditional and possibly hierarchical means of doing and mediating critique increased or diminished the relevance of CSS? What are the everyday challenges of doing and mediating critique in these ways? Such questions compel us to explore the particular knowledge economies of CSS and the effects of articulating critique therein. This will include, for example, a critical 2 discussion of the effects of employing an academic lingua franca (i.e. English), choices of classical methods, publishing in specific outlets, traditional forms of data presentation, etc.
- Is CSS still leading the critique of security, or are we increasingly being overtaken by actors with greater abilities and tools to influence this debate? To what extent does the employment of nontraditional modes of critique within CSS indicate that we are now following the critique of others and/or becoming embedded in an intrinsically circular way of doing critique? Can we imagine new ways of mediating critique, by – for example – integrating new sources into our research that may overcome these challenges?
- What novel ways of doing and mediating critique are emerging in CSS and how are they increasing or diminishing the relevance of academic scholarship? Might emancipatory projects within CSS require an unlearning, or at least a repositioning of academic writing, and so a learning to do critique differently? How can we produce new types of sources in spite of the imperatives of knowledge economies? What would that entail?
We invite contributions that deal with these questions through discussions of the critical scholar’s own engagement with the everyday practicalities of doing and mediating research. Reflections on doing research could discuss the practical difficulties and benefits of engaging new sources of critique (films, novels, activism, etc.) and also of producing new forms of presentation that are non-traditional in the field (theater, images, long-form interview quotation, non-linear texts, etc.). These contributions will reflect, in short, on the increasingly aesthetically considered and mediated practice of doing critique. Reflections about what it means to mediate research could follow the critical life of the artifacts produced by scholars working within CSS on their journey into the ‘world-out-there’. They could trace the degree to which these artifacts achieve recognition, acknowledgement, or impact, but also how they meet blockages of incomprehension, political inertia, or a lack of engagement. Focusing on CSS or security and surveillance studies more broadly, contributions will explore the mechanisms of mediation that circulate, loop, and translate critique across social fields. Overall, the special issue seeks to contribute with original insights into the broader discussion about the very possibility of critique in academic, societal and policy environments that have embraced the dream of a knowledge economy. Contributions can fit into any of the three questions listed above, or cut across them, as best fits the empirical topic under discussion. Although inspired from recent work within critical and pragmatist strands of sociological thought, the special issue welcomes contributions from all theoretical, philosophical, or conceptual points of view.