In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Geographies of Security and Securitization

  • Introduction
  • General Overview
  • Journals
  • Geographies of Securitization & Crime Prevention
  • On the Securitization of Borders & Migration
  • (En)Gendering Geographies of Conflict & Civilian (In)Security
  • Domestic Violence, Trauma & Alter-Geopolitics

Geography Geographies of Security and Securitization
Sarah Klosterkamp
  • LAST MODIFIED: 23 June 2023
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199874002-0260


The broad field of geographies of security and securitization offers an umbrella for many different themes, aspects, and perspectives. While long solely connected to the field of conflicts, terrorism, or dealing with counteraggressive means and objectives enacted by the state, the field has broadened to include a huge variety of new and extremely urgent but multilayered threats to the (welfare) state, incorporating perspectives and events of securitization from the Global North, South, and East, and also highlighting much often marginalized voices and other types of violence which lead to civilian (in)securities from within. This bibliography entry aims to highlight both directions— the long-standing, well established specific sense of securitization theory, departing from IR and security approaches, as well as more recent accounts, trends, and new perspectives in the field of human geography and conflict studies—as a general take on what can be considered as ‘security problems.’ In doing so, it starts with some initial suggestions, which entail a general overview to some of the earlier work done by geographers and their long-standing, but still much fruitful takes within and from the field of geographies of security and securitization. This is followed by a short introduction to the most important (geographical) journals for the subject area, and subsequently specific aspects of studies on security and securitization, especially from feminist, postcolonial, and critical perspectives, will be presented. These sections are subdivided into 1) Geographies of Securitization & Crime Prevention, 2) On the Securitization of Borders & Migration, 3) (En)Gendering Geographies of Conflict & Civilian (In)Security, and 4) Domestic Violence, Trauma & Alter-Geopolitics. What follows then leaves the narrower field of security studies and throws a few selected spotlights on 5) emerging trends and challenges for the field of (planetary) security. Politically, institutionally rendered, economics-driven, and pandemic-shaped fields of geographies of securities are presented, the issues of which are increasingly threatening to and contested by societies in times of current planetary and urban polycrises—including geopolitical issues, state security, and questions of the securitization of basic goods for human life, such as the supply and provision of energy, housing, and food.

General Overview

This section offers a general overview of the field of geographies of security and securitization, especially useful for everyone new to the field and students. All authors cited here are well established and have contributed to the field within the last two decades. A good starting point is Neocleous 2006, which illustrates how social and national security are linked, conceptually, politically, and historically. As conflicts and issues of securities are most often defined in reference to the absence of or endangerment of peace, this overview also entails short introductions to the field of peace and international security studies, provided in Richmond 2014 and Buzan and Hansen 2012, highlighting the field of security and securitization by tracing it from its origins in traditional realist analysis to feminist and postcolonialist examinations. Going from there, scholarly work tends to deepen these takes by elaborating more on where to find security and securitization within space. Foundational for the field of post-9/11 studies are Gregory 2011 and Pain 2014, highlighting the everydayness of war and terrorism and how both come into play on a local level beyond the global. Simon 2007 takes a deeper look at this in the US context and thus illustrates how in the United States discourses of the war on terror, fear, and crime prevention have been enacted as mode of “governing through crime” (Simon 2007). Moreover, Hunt and Rygiel 2008 demonstrates for the field of (post)war and (post)conflict zones how crime prevention has been used to camouflage politics on local and global levels. These more introductory entries are flagged by other contributions, which offer some core insights of what is at stake here and what might be understood, in a more general way, conceptually and as enriched by theories of conflict and security studies as important additions to the field—as Dillon and Lobo-Guerrero 2008 suggests, Johnson 2014 highlights, and Ingram and Dodds 2009 discusses.

  • Buzan, Barry, and Lene Hansen. The Evolution of International Security Studies. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

    This book provides a good orientation for everyone new to the field of international security studies (ISS), but interested in its histories and original ideas. Buzan and Hansen provide a fruitful overview of the intellectual history of the development of the field and the subject of securitization by examining the evolvement of ISS from traditional realist analysis to feminism and postcolonialism.

  • Dillon, Michael, and Luis Lobo-Guerrero. “Biopolitics of Security in the 21st Century: An Introduction.” Review of International Studies 34.2 (2008): 265–292.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0260210508008024

    This essay provides an exegesis of Michel Foucault’s analytic of biopolitics and contrasts this account of security with that given by traditional geopolitical security discourses. Furthermore, and by leaving Foucault aside, it also interrogates the impact of the compression of morbidity on populations and the molecular revolution, which has been often taken on or considered in referring to the recombinant biopolitics of security in the molecular age.

  • Gregory, Derek. “The Everywhere War.” The Geographical Journal 177.3 (2011): 238–250.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4959.2011.00426.x

    This article broadens the discourses and discussions of post 9/11 by bringing these into dialog with other war sites and involvements of the United States, such as drones in Afghanistan-Pakistan, the expansion of US militarization of the US-Mexican border as a means of the “war on drugs,” or the stealth attacks on critical infrastructure and their entanglement in a ramping up of securitization of cyberspace.

  • Hunt, Krista, and Kim Rygiel. (En)Gendering the War on Terror: War Stories and Camouflaged Politics. Gender in a Global/Local World. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2008.

    This book examines the official post-9/11 “war on terror” stories being told to the international community about why and against whom this war is being waged. The book is a great benefit for a wide array of intersecting interests, particularly for students, scholars, and practitioners who are new in the areas of international relations, women’s studies, and cultural studies.

  • Ingram, Alan, and Klaus Dodds, eds. Spaces of Security and Insecurity. Farnham, UK: Ashgate Publishing, 2009.

    Drawing on critical geopolitics and related strands of social theory, this anthology combines theoretical and methodological reflections on the geographical analysis of (in)security. Grounded and enriched with empirical case studies, it offers a home for a wide range of early as well as more established scholars working in the field but entering it from different angles, such as international law, migration, social movements, and the arts.

  • Johnson, Leigh. “Geographies of Securitized Catastrophe Risk and the Implications of Climate Change.” Economic Geography 90.2 (2014): 155–185.

    DOI: 10.1111/ecge.12048

    By combining data from interviews with industry datasets and market reports, the study demonstrates how parts of reinsurance markets have been rendered investment-worthy for financial capital through the encapsulation of scalable and selective engagements with insurance risks. The study thus illustrates how the climate change is impacted by enumerated drivers and implications of the securitization of fixed capital’s place-based vulnerabilities.

  • Neocleous, Mark. “From Social to National Security: On the Fabrication of Economic Order.” Security Dialogue 37.3 (2006): 363–384.

    DOI: 10.1177/0967010606069061

    This article is a thought provoking and foundational piece, well-suited for everyone interested in the nexus of the economic security of society and overall security. It provides some of the conceptual, political, and historical links between the two and thus provides a critical way of thinking about security by identifying the issues dividing social deprivations from security policies.

  • Pain, Rachel. “Everyday Terrorism.” Progress in Human Geography 38.4 (2014): 531–550.

    DOI: 10.1177/0309132513512231

    This piece offers one of the first powerful expansions of the field of security studies, by focusing not only on the global but also on the intimate level. In doing so, it presents domestic violence as a form “everyday terrorism” and thus pushes the boundaries of hegemonic notions of terrorism as a merely global, nation-state-centered phenomenon and origin for political actions to its peripherals: fear and trauma within ordinary households.

  • Richmond, Oliver. Peace: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.

    DOI: 10.1093/actrade/9780199656004.001.0001

    This introduction offers some key aspects, theories, and concepts of peace within the field of peace and conflict studies. It is a helpful starting point for everyone new to the field and with the desire of getting a fair amount of orientation without too many complexities. As such, it is also a good source to be incorporated as an initial reading within a seminar on geographies of (in)security.

  • Simon, Jonathan. Governing Through Crime: How the War on Crime Transformed American Democracy and Created a Culture of Fear. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

    This book decenters the security perspective to the management of risk and the treatment of social ills as ‘social problems.’ In doing so, Simon draws on welfare dependencies and educational inequality and their reconceptualization as crime. As such, he highlights how these tendencies unfolded differently for different people, especially noncitizen residents, even before terrorist attacks had happened.

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