Security and Conflict

POL 7112 (2007)


Mark B. Salter (


W 2:30-5:30  DMS 9143


The central security-anarchy-sovereignty problematic of international relations has undergone (profound?) changes in the past decade. This course will not attempt an exhaustive topology of security studies, but rather focus on three key concepts crucial to understand the field: security, war, risk.  We will examine several key questions: How the political appeal to security functions to make exceptional measures ‘normal’? Are there essential characteristics of war, or has the nature of international conflict changed in the cyber-, global, terror age? To what extent has risk proliferated throughout contemporary politics and made security a matter of management? Focusing on critical security studies, we will examine macro-, meso-, and micro-levels of analysis of sites of security.  Evaluation will be based on participation, a major essay, and a workshop-style presentation.


Participation                                  20%

Major Essay                                   50%

Workshop Presentation                  30%


Participation: Engaged and thoughtful participation is vital to any seminar. Be prepared for active discussion by completing the assignments and creating a positive atmosphere of respect and enthusiasm.  Students must submit a short paragraph of critical reflection on the week’s readings and two discussion questions at the beginning of each seminar.


Major Essay: Students will complete a major (30 page) essay on a topic within the course. Essay must comply with the highest standards of academic honesty, citation format, and appropriate quotation. Grading standards are elaborated below. With the essay, students will write a letter of introduction, identifying the academic journal for which the essay is best suited (following the style guide for that journal), suggesting three possible reviewers, and stating clearly the debate to which they are contributing.

Essays are due on Dec. 10th, with no exceptions for lateness.


Workshop Presentation: On October 17th and Oct 24th, we will hold a POL7112 workshop – in which students will have their rough draft presented by a fellow student. Students will post their rough draft to WebCT 7 days before the workshop. Each student will be a presenter and an author. Presenters will provide a 10 minute précis and critique of the rough draft, followed by a 5 minute response by the author. A general discussion will follow. Students will be assessed on their presentation in terms of clarity and utility. Clarity: clear and accurate summary of colleague’s rough draft; utility: specific suggestions of areas for improvement, including citations, theories, or cases for consideration.  Essays will be revisited on Nov. 28th by presenter and class for a second peer-review.



Any absence may affect your grade; 3 or more absences will result in a failing grade of INC.

Students with special needs should contact Access Service.

Drop date Nov. 5th.

Students may submit written work in either English or French.




Potential Research Topics:

Has “security studies” died or been born again in the post-9/11 world?

Is security/risk/war everything/nothing or a discrete field of discourse/activity/society/relations?

Is International Relations as a discipline best equipped to understand/analyze security?

What are the spatio-temporal dynamics of security: topology, territory, borders, mobility, speed?

Has the “state of exception” become the rule?

Is war better understood as a network or a debate?

What are the normative/ethical issues surrounding securitization/desecuritization?

What do specific cases/examples (e.g. airport security, kidnap and ransom insurance, private military companies, biometric technologies) illustrate about theories of security?

What is the relation between security, ethics, and emotion/affect?



Alan Collins, Contemporary Security Studies, Oxford: OUP, 2007.

John Baylis, et al., Strategy in the Contemporary World, Oxford: OUP, 2007.

Kalevi J. Holsti, The State, War, and the State of War, Cambridge: CUP, 1996.

John Keegan, A History of Warfare, London: Pimlico, 1993.

Michael Sheehan, International Security: An analytical survey, Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 2005.


Key works:

David Campbell, Writing Security: US Foreign Policy and the Politics of Identity, Minneapolis: UMinn Press, 2nd edition, 1998.

Christopher Coker, Waging War Without Warriors: The Changing Culture of Military Conflict, Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 2002.

K.M. Fierke, Critical Approaches to International Security, Cambridge: Polity, 2007.

Derek Gregory, The colonial present: Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq, Malden: Blackwell, 2004.

Chris Hables Hayes, Postmodern War: The New Politics of Conflict, New York: Guildford Press, 1997.

Mikkel Vedby Rasmussen, Risk Society at War: Terror, Technology and Strategy in the Twenty-First Century, Cambridge: CUP, 2006.


Provocative readings:

Derek Gregory and Allan Pred eds., Violent Geographies: Fear, Terror, and Political Violence, London: Routledge, 2007.

Lene Hansen, Security as Practice: Discourse Analysis and the Bosnian War, London: Routledge, 2006.

Torin Monahan ed., Surveillance and Security: Technological Politics and Power in Everyday Life, London: Routledge.

Cynthia Weber, Imagining America at War: Morality, Politics, and Film, London: Routledge, 2006.


Seminar Schedule (* avail on WebCT: reader avail @Rytec Printing, 404 Dalhousie Street)


Sept. 12th (SGIR)

* Jeroen Gunning, “A Case for Critical Terrorism Studies?” Government and Opposition 42,3 (2007): 363-393.

*Jef Huysmans, “Security! What do you mean? From concept to thick signifier” European Journal of International Relations 4,2 (1998): 226-255.

Johannes Stripple, “Security” Climate Change after the International: Rethinking security, territory, and authority (Lund: Lund University, 2005): 41-75.


Sept. 19th Methodology

* Didier Bigo, “Globalized (in)Security: the Field and the Ban-opticon” Illiberal Practices of Liberal Regimes eds., Didier Bigo and Anna Tsoukala (Paris, l'Harmattan, 2006): 5-49.

Erving Goffman, “Frame Analysis” The Goffman Reader ed., Charles Lemert and Ann Branaman (Malden: Blackwell, 1997):149-166.

Lene Hansen, “Research Designs” Security as Practice: Discourse analysis and the Bosnian War (London: Routledge, 2006): 64, 73-92.

Jef Huysmans, Politics of Insecurity: Fear, migration and asylum in the EU, NY: Routledge, 2006: 15-44.


Sept 26th Risk, War, Security

* Kevin D. Haggerty, and Ericson, Richard V. “The surveillant assemblage,” British Journal of Sociology 51, no. 4(2000):  605 – 622.

* Mikkel Vedby Rasmussen “‘It Sounds Like a Riddle’: Security Studies, the War on *Terror and Risk” Millennium: Journal of International Studies 33, 2 (2004): 381-395.

* Claudia Aradua & Rens van Munster. 2007. ‘Governing Terrorism through Risk: taking precautions,(un) knowing the future’, European Journal of International Relations 13(1), 89-115


Oct 3rd Where is War

Michel Foucault, Society must be defended eds., Mauro Bertani and Alessandro Fontana, trans. David Macey (NY: Picador, 2003): 23-59.

*Julian Reid, “Foucault on Clausewitz: Conceptualizing the relationship between war and power” Alternatives 28,1 (2003): 1-28.

*Michael Dillon, “Network Society, Network-centric Warfare and the State of Emergency” Theory, Culture, Society 19, 4 (2002): 71–79.


Oct 10th C.A.S.E.-sensitive                                                        (Workshop posting)

* c.a.s.e. collective, “Critical Approaches to Security in Europe: a networked manifesto” Security Dialogue 37,4 (2006): 443-487.

* Rens van Munster “Security on a Shoestring: A hitchhiker’s guide to critical schools of security in Europe” Cooperation and Conflict 42,2 (2007): 235-243.

* Michael C. Williams “Words, Images, Enemies: Securitization and International Politics” International Studies Quarterly 47 (2003): 511-531.


Oct 17th War/Body + Workshop                                                 (Workshop posting)

 Elaine Scarry “The Structure of War: The juxtaposition of injured bodies and unanchored issues” The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1985): 60-157.


Oct 24th Simulation + Workshop

*Stephen Graham, “War and the City” New Left Review 44 (2007).

* James Der Derian “Virtuous War/Virtual Theory” International Affairs 76,4 (2000): 771–788.

* Steve Wright, “Sub-lethal vision: varieties of military surveillance technology” Surveillance and Society 4,1/2 (2006: 136-153.


Oct 31  (Post)Colonial              (AVSEC)                                              Nov. 5 drop date

*Tarak Barkawi and Mark Laffey, “The postcolonial moment in security studies” Review of International Studies 32 (2006): 329-352.

* Mark Duffield, “Getting savages to fight barbarians: development, security and the colonial present,” Conflict, Security & Development 5,2 (2005): 141 - 159


Nov 7th Minority Reports

 *John Arquilla and David F. Ronfeldt, “Netwar Revisited: The Fight for the Future Continues,” Low Intensity Conflict & Law Enforcement 11, 2 (2002): 178 – 189.

* Roger Stahl, “Have you Played the War on Terror?” Critical Studies in Media Communication 23, 2 (2006): 112-130.

* Marcus Power, “Digitized Virtuosity: Video war games and post-9/11 cyber-deterrence” Security Dialogue 38, 2 (2007): 271-288.


Nov 14th  The Net                      (ISANE)

* Peter Gill, “Not Just Joining the Dots But Crossing the Borders and Bridging the Voids: Constructing Security Networks after 11 September 2001,” Policing and Society, 16, 1 (2006): 27 – 49.

* Richard Matthew and George Shambaugh, “The Limits of Terrorism: A Network Perspective: International Studies Review 7, 4 (2005): 617–627.


Nov 21st Securing Mobility

* Packer, Jeremy “Becoming Bombs: Mobilizing mobility in the war on terror,” Cultural Studies 20,4 (2006): 378 - 399

* David Campbell, “The Biopolitics of Security: Oil, empire, and the Sports Utility Vehicle,” American Quarterly 57, No. 3, (September 2005): 943-972.

* Peter Adey, “Surveillance at the Airport: Surveilling Mobility/Mobilizing Surveillance,” Environment and Planning A 36, no. 8 (2004): 1365-1380.


Nov 28th  Body/Biometrics                                                        Essay Workshop Revisited

*Philippe Bonditti, “From Territorial Space to Networks: A Foucaldian Approach to the Implementation of Biometry: Alternatives: Global, Local, Political 29, 4 (2004): 465-482.

*Stephan Elbe, “AIDS, Security, Biopolitics,” International Relations 19,4 (2005): 403-419.

*Benjamin J. Muller and John Measor “Securitizing the Global Norm of Identity: Biometrics Technologies in Domestic and Foreign Policyand Homo Sacer in Fallujah” International Political Sociology (forthcoming).


Dec 5th

*Bill Durodié, “Fear and Terror in a Post-Political Age,” Government and Opposition 42,3 (2007): 427–450

Christopher Coker, “Posthuman War” Waging War without Warriors? The changing culture of military conflict (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 2002): 159-195.