Security as universality? The Roma contesting security in Europe

Claudia Aradau*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction Critical security studies have been divided over a seemingly unanswerable question: can security be for everybody? On the one hand, the answer assumed an insurmountable logic of security as war and exclusion, be it only because this logic has gained historical and practical dominance and it is continually entrenched through practices of governance; on the other, the possibility of multiple, plural, nuanced forms of security that encompass the desires and needs of many of the marginalized people of the world. Human security has perhaps made this rift most clear. In one perspective, human security is nothing more than a regime of power/knowledge which is implicated with the Realpolitik dominance of the international sphere (Grayson 2008). It effaces the global processes of ordering and the promotion of a liberal regime of governance under the mantra of ‘global civil society’ (Shepherd 2007). As a ‘universalist tool of global governance’ (Hudson 2005, 159), human security masks multiple and overlapping identities and promotes the hegemonic illusion of the disembodied male subject. Yet, human security has also been promoted as a shift away from the dominance of state security, a way of reopening the debate about what security is and whether it can be mobilized differently. Cautionary notes about human security abound, even in these more positive engagements. Being tied in with global institutions, rendered subservient to the state or working to channel state security in a different form, human security was itself broadened, reconfigured or supplemented by particular narratives and stories about security. It is difficult not to argue that human security reproduces particular hegemonic relations, forms of dominance, exclusion and liberal governance. At the same time, despite the theoretical and empirical qualms, it is difficult not to acknowledge that human security has opened a field of contestation about who counts as a subject of security. We are back to the initial impasse.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationContesting Security
Subtitle of host publicationStrategies and Logics
PublisherTaylor and Francis Ltd
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781136162732
ISBN (Print)9780415643863
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


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