Citizenship and securitising: interstitial politics

Huysmans, Jef and Guillaume, Xavier (2013). Citizenship and securitising: interstitial politics. In: Guillaume, Xavier and Huysmans, Jef eds. Citizenship and Security The Constitution of Political Being. PRIO New Security Studies. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 18–34.



Most studies of how insecurities are socially and politically constituted develop sophisticated dystopian sociologies of security practice. They emphasize that security is a technique of exclusion, discrimination and/or unmaking the political capacity of subjects. Yet, such an understanding of the politics of insecurity is only part of the story. Securitized subjects do not always passively enact discriminations and de-politicizations; they also produce cracks in securitizing processes.

The chapter proposes to correct the dystopian focus of the analytics of securitizing by taking citizenship seriously as a category through which political being is analyzed. This proposal is not unproblematic, and it is certainly not the only way to pose an analytics of being political in dystopian visions of securitizing. It is however not an insignificant one either, especially in those sites, situations and moments where security and citizenship have again become central to the formulation of political life.

We first highlight the key political elements in work on securitizing, and then introduce a conception of citizenship which retains its ambiguous history of being both an institution of domination and exclusion and a mode of empowering subjugated, excluded, and alienated people. Finally, we propose the interstitial between security and citizenship as a method of analyzing the political practice of those considered as alienated or excluded from politics, and thus of bringing them within the political scene.

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