Review of Low and Maguire's Spaces of Security: Ethnographies of Securityscapes, Surveillance, and Control

Jon Coaffee
2020 Surveillance & Society  
In recent years, a tsunami of monographs, edited collections, policy reports and guidance, and academic journal articles have been published that reflect upon the current century's obsession with security and the processes of securing multiple types of space-from the individual to the planetary. The majority of this work has deployed conceptual frameworks that either draw on the work of Foucault and his followers in depicting social space as a metaphor for a site or container of power that
more » ... of power that usually constrains, especially in exceptional times, or utilise ideas associated with the Copenhagen School's conception of securitisation as a process-based explanation that explores how state actors transform subjects into security issues. Although such accounts have illuminated the burgeoning of defensive landscapes, surveillance practices, and new regimes of security planning as responses to heighted levels of perceived risk, threat, and insecurity, they arguable preference synchronic accounts that portray forms of power and knowledge as monolithic, with state practices fitting seamlessly with practices of self-creation. This has subsequently resulted in calls to move beyond such meta-approaches to the study of security, which focus on formal institutions of government, and develop a more nuanced view of institutions and their effects on society that show greater sensitivity to diversity and heterogeneity. In parallel, an "everyday" turn within a broad range of security studies and their analyses of how non-elite knowledge-for example, how security perceptions differ according to identity, ethnicity, religion, class, and gender-is incorporated into state-level security strategies has begun to emerge with a focus upon how street-level spatial practices and feelings are embodied in spaces as a result of being received by citizens in ways that unsettle, disrupt, or resist traditional technocratic accounts. Whilst Spaces of Security draws partially on the security studies orthodoxy of governmentality, biopolitics, and securitisation in terms of framing the collection of chapters, it is very much situated in new ideas and methodologies that belong to the everyday security camp. In particular, the chapters focus upon the myriad of ways in which anthropological accounts, and the methodologies they deploy, can assist our understanding of the complex and often hidden relationships between security and space. As the editors argue in the introductory chapter, through a spatial lens, "this volume draws together ethnographic research on spaces of security from different regions and scales, [with] each contribution focus[ing] of specific spatio-temporal Book Review
doi:10.24908/ss.v18i2.13984 fatcat:7pd2r3umefd43nr3xubjsfvsyy