Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

ESRC Seminar Series on Contemporary Biopolitical Security Fourth workshop:

Problematising Danger

Co-sponsored by the Biopolitics of Security Network,
the Emerging Securities Research Unit @ Keele University
and the Centre for International Relations, War Studies Department, King’s
College London

21-22 February 2011
The River Room, King’s College London, Strand Campus

Keynote speaker:
Professor Marieke de Goede
Professor of Politics, with a focus on Europe in a Global Order, at the Department of Politics of the University of Amsterdam

Call for interventions
‘There is no liberalism without a culture of danger.’ (Foucault, 2008: 67)

FOUCAULT, M. 2008. The Birth of Biopolitics: lectures at the College de France, 1978-1979,Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.

Threats and risks have become the preferred categories for imagining contemporary security. Practices such as defence, border control and the surveillance of populations, insurance, risk profiling to identify suspicious subjects, and risk assessments to protect objects and systems such as critical infrastructure, rely heavily on well-established paradigms of security. Discourses and practices of threats and risks, with their allied technologies of measurement and calculation, however, relate to the wider problem of danger and its allied concept of ‘uncertainty’. Thinking ‘danger’ relates to understandings of uncertainties, otherness of being, and spaces and environments of protection in excess of those accounted for in the language and metrics of discourses of threats and risks.

What happens, then, if the analysis of security resorts to understandings of ‘danger’, ‘dangerousness’, and processes of ‘endangerment’? Is it possible to think security by referring ideas of danger to understandings of life, livelihoods and lifestyles, instead of ready-made ‘objects’ of security such as sovereignty, territory, the nation-state, citizens, borders, and sociological categories such as class and gender? Is it possible to think security in relation to danger away from utilitarian economic categories such as cost-benefit analysis, risk calculus, and rational choice? The workshop aims to explore these questions and to challenge participants to wonder if current policy security priorities such as terrorism, climate change, weapons proliferation, resilience and migration can be thought in relation to ‘danger’ outside discourses of threats and risks.

In the first three workshops of this seminar series we began to explore an agenda for contemporary biopolitical security research around problems such as mobilities and circulations, resilience, values and processes of valuations in relation to the technologies through which lifestyles and livelihoods are treated as referents of security. In this fourth workshop we intend to spark a conversation around the implications of thinking dangerousness in relation to security and life.

The workshop welcomes interventions from scholars working on any area of security and risk and invites them to reflect on the following questions:

* How are ideas of danger constituted? What forms of ‘data’, ‘information’, and ‘knowledge’ are involved in constituting a dangerous subject or a dangerous environment?
* What are the preconditions for understanding endangerment and how do they question the ‘new security challenges’ of for example, terrorism (and cyber-terrorism), proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, climate change, and health pandemics?
* Can discourses and practices of security be different if reflections on the consequences of endangerment are advanced?

Interventions do not necessarily need to be in the form of a pre-written paper although we would welcome written contributions. We invite emerging and established researchers on the wider field of security studies to reflect on their own work based on the questions noted above. PhD contributions are very welcome.

Please send a 200-300 word abstract of your proposed intervention for the debate to our workshop coordinators (noted below) no later than the 30th of November 2010.

Please include your affiliation and contact details in the abstract. Acceptance of contributions will be confirmed by email on the week commencing the 6th of December.

Funding: Travel and accommodation expenses will be covered for contributors and a limited number of participants based in the UK (according to ESRC rules). If you are a PhD student and want to participate without an intervention, please express your interest to the workshop coordinators as early as possible. Some funds might be available to facilitate your attendance.

Workshop coordinators:
Philip Slann (
Corey Walker-Mortimer ( )

Event organisers:
Dr Luis Lobo-Guerrero (Visiting Research Fellow, King’s College London; and
Lecturer in International Relations, Keele University), and Professor

Vivienne Jabri (Professor of International Politics and Director of the
Centre for International Relations at King’s College London)

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