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Number of results: 3

The Time/Space of Preparedness: Anticipating the “Next Terrorist Attack”

Document type: 
Scientific publication
Authors / Institution: 
Rens Van Munster
Publisher / Publication: 
Space & Culture, 15 (2): 98-109
Abstract: 

The “next terrorist attack” has become one of the main fixtures of the collective imagination of catastrophic futures.

Reflecting on a series of exercises and scenarios deployed to prepare for terrorist attacks, this article interrogates the co-constitution of temporality and spatiality in such practices. The main argument is that practices of preparedness enact a withdrawal of time, where the temporal uncertainty of the future event is displaced on the management of space. The separation of space and time implies that actions are not focused on understanding the conditions of possibility of the disruptive event but shift attention to the management of spaces and attention to behaviour that is considered out of place.

The Securitization of Catastrophic Events: Trauma, Enactment, and Preparedness Exercises

Document type: 
Scientific publication
Authors / Institution: 
Rens Van Munster
Publisher / Publication: 
Alternatives: Global, Local, Political, 37 (3): 227-239
Abstract: 

Psychological knowledge has become incorporated into a range of security practices, discourses, and interventions in catastrophic events, including terrorism.

By engaging the existing literature on the medicalization and psychologization of security, this article reads the enactment knowledge deployed in preparedness exercises from the perspective of psychodrama and sociodrama rather than that of psychoanalysis or psychosocial risk management. Enactment has become an important mode of knowledge for the governance of terrorism, as preparedness exercises deploy action methods, drama, enactment, and performance to prepare for unexpected, catastrophic events. Taking seriously the conceptualization of enactment, as deployed in psychodrama and sociodrama, can also challenge the securitization of catastrophic events. The article concludes that enactment, which foregrounds action rather than speech, and suggests that meaning follows action, can also offer critical insights into securitization theory.

Governing Terrorism Through Risk: Taking Precautions, (un)Knowing the Future

Document type: 
Scientific publication
Authors / Institution: 
Rens Van Munster
Publisher / Publication: 
European Journal of International Relations March 2007 vol. 13 no. 1 89-115
Abstract: 

The events of 9/11 appeared to make good on Ulrich Beck's claim that we are now living in a (global) risk society.

Examining what it means to ‘govern through risk’, this article departs from Beck's thesis of risk society and its appropriation in security studies. Arguing that the risk society thesis problematically views risk within a macro-sociological narrative of modernity, this article shows, based on a Foucauldian account of governmentality, that governing terrorism through risk involves a permanent adjustment of traditional forms of risk management in light of the double infinity of catastrophic consequences and the incalculability of the risk of terrorism. Deploying the Foucauldian notion of ‘dispositif’, this article explores precautionary risk and risk analysis as conceptual tools that can shed light on the heterogeneous practices that are defined as the ‘war on terror’.

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