securing security

Kirsch, Thomas G. 2018. Securing Security: Recursive Security Assemblages in South Africa. In Spaces of Security. Ethnographies of Securityscapes, Surveillance and Control, edited by Low, Setha & Mark Maguire. New York: New York University Press, 122-140.

"There is presently no shortage of conceptual models to account for the fact that security have begun to play an increasingly important role in more and more spheres of life. However, most of these explanations rely on a figure of thought in which security is freshly brought to bear on something which has not previously been a target of security. This chapter develops an alternative approach. Drawing on my ethnographic findings from South Africa, I start out from the observation that, once it has been established, security needs to be secured if is to be maintained in the face of potentially adversarial forces. Thus, what is explored is a particular logic of security in which security becomes its own reference object. It is argued that this logic gives rise to security linkages of a particular kind, linkages that are not based on a forward-driving expansion of security agendas but, rather, on protectively and recursively backing up already existing measures. By attending to security’s recursiveness we can address some of the ways in which the “rooting” of security assemblages occurs in sociocultural contexts."