Securitisation of space and time

by Sari Nauman

27 Aug 2021
Journal of the British Academy
Digital Object Identifier
Number of pages
19 (pp. 13-31)

Abstract: This article introduces the concept of securitisation for early modern studies. It identifies security studies’ implicit state-centric approach as one of the main culprits for early modern scholars’ hesitance to use the concept and argues that, for historians, there is a twofold problem with placing the state at the centre of research. The problem pertains to how scholars have dealt with the interactions between time and space when approaching the state. First, the definition of state is space- and time-centred; it is built to accommodate the system of 19th- and 20th-century Europe, with the idea of the sovereign state at its centre. To fit the early modern period, we need to acknowledge the role of other entities and varieties in securitisation processes. Second, the concept of the state needs to be problematised by acknowledging the changing nature of its space—that is, by temporalising its spatiality.

The second part of the text focuses on two interconnected areas especially prone to securitisation, where historians have much to offer those studying securitisation processes: migration and border making. Questions of how to control the future and how to secure it are most often translated into a spatial problem: as long as the border is secure, change will not enter. By focusing on local responses to perceived security threats and studying the effects that measures taken had on local communities, historians can seek not only to understand the underlying assumptions made about the future by our objects of investigation, but also to gain considerable insight into de-securitisation processes.

Keywords: securitisation, migration, border making, temporality, spatiality, early modern history, threats, state formation, sovereignty, security studies, de-securitisation.

Article posted to Journal of the British Academy, volume 9, supplementary issue 4 (Global Border Making and Securitisation in the Early Modern World)

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