Critical Approaches to Risk and Security: East, South, North and West

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University of Liverpool in Singapore

Block 29B Tampines Avenue 1


Singapore, 138682


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Free attendance will be open to the keynotes and panel discussion which will take place on both days (11th and 12th April) of the conference.

Please select which keynote you would like to attend. These include;

10th April 9.15am, Professor Maggy Lee - Migration Control in Asia

One of the key characteristics of contemporary border discourse and control regime is the tension between the open and often intemperate reliance on disposable migrant labourers and public anxieties directed at unwanted foreign populations. State and non-state actors have developed multiple and highly contradictory strategies of regulating the flows of migrants through paternalistic protection, criminalization, and coercive mass arrests and deportation as enforcement 'spectacle'. This paper will examine these developments and paradox in the control of male and female migrant labourers in Southeast Asia and the implications for producing a more nuanced understanding of border and control in risk conscious societies in the global South.

10th April 3.30pm, Professor Adam Burgess - The risk security industry: the fascinating past and future of insurance

The risk security industry: the fascinating past and future of insurance

Insurance is the security blanket of modernity, allowing the pooling of risk that can no longer be managed alone. The story of risk began with marine insurance and continued as its practices and logic spread to land, transforming firstly American society as it created ‘risk communities’ and revolutionised conceptions of danger in its wake. We seem to be witnessing a comparable transformation in modern China. China Life Insurance and Ping An are now the world’s second and third largest insurers. By 2016 there has been a doubling of insurance assets in under 4 years, with 7.2 million people working in the industry, amounting to around 1 in every 50 urban Chinese workers now selling insurance products - mainly private pensions to cover the country’s ageing population’s health care.

In this lecture I want firstly to look historically at how life insurance was central to the transformation of modern America, from the late 19th Century. This was far from being only a technical endeavour. The fortunes of the American insurance industry were determined by their ability to reconfigure and challenge perceptions of their “immoral” enterprise. Insurance socializes risk as it translates moral questions of responsibility into instrumental questions of cost. These remain important questions in insurance’s modern expansion, in a Chinese society already concerned with anti-social individualization and as its old people become costs to be managed rather than parents to look after.

In other ways, the modern, risk socializing mission of insurance is now called into question, as “big data” makes it possible to now select low risk customers and spurn the rest, leaving some uninsurable and shrinking the risk pool so that the aggregation of risk at the heart of insurance is broken down. With car insurance, it also dictates direct control of the individual, with premiums being based on driving performance, willingness to be monitored and restricted to low risk times of day. But questions are also posed about insurance’s own control as the future favours those who have mastered and amassed individualised data; the likes of Google and Facebook rather than Prudential, AXA and China Life.

11th April 9.00am, Professor Murray Lee - Perceptions of Crime in Turbulent Times

While many criminologists have been talking about the great crime decline (Zimring 2007) and even the fear of crime decline (Eysink-Smeets 2017), insecurity continues to drive crime policy and exclusionist populist politics more generally in many parts of the world. Indeed, in such an environment the need for a progressive sociology to better understand the complex dynamics of fear of crime has only increased. However, such work needs to extend beyond explaining the elements of such fears; it must also be attentive to the proven political economy of fear of crime. This should extend to mapping how fear might also be functional (Gray et al 2011). This paper explores fear of crime as ‘functional’ and discusses both the anti and pro-social possibilities of fear of crime.

11th April 4.45pm, Professor Gabe Mythen and Keynote Speakers - Panel Discussion with Professors Mythen, Lee, Burgess and Lee: ‘Risk and Security: Reflections, Controversies and Futures’

Gabe Mythen

Over the last two decades Professor Mythen has been studying the impacts of risk on everyday life across a range of domains, including national security, crime, politics, welfare, work, the environment and consumption. During the course of his career he has been keen to explore the ways in which social dangers are socially constructed and symbolically represented, how risks are perceived by different cultural groups, the ways in which risks are politically managed and the modes of regulation deployed by government and criminal justice agencies seeking to control risks.

Professor Mythen has established an international reputation in the field of risk research, delivering lectures and papers in Europe, North America, South America, Asia and Oceania. He has authored several books on risk and his work is published in a range of high impact social science journals including the British Journal of Sociology, the British Journal of Criminology, Sociology, Sociological Review and Security Dialogue.

Maggy Lee

Maggy Lee - keynoteBiography‌

Maggy Lee is a Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Hong Kong. She has published widely on transnational migration and human trafficking. Her publications include: Trafficking and Global Crime Control (Sage, 2011), ‘Human Trafficking and Border Control in the Global South’ in Aas and Bosworth (eds), The Borders of Punishment (Oxford University Press, 2013), and ‘Women’s imprisonment as a mechanism of migration control in Hong Kong’, British Journal of Criminology, 2007. Her recent research projects include: 'Migration and Surveillance' (with M. Johnson and M. McCahill, funded by the British Academy); 'British and Asian Lifestyle Migrants' (with K. O'Reilly and R. Stones, funded by the ESRC/Hong Kong Research Grants Council) and ‘Fear of Crime and Trust in Crime Control in HK’ (with M. Adorjan, funded by the HK Research Grants Council).

Adam Burgess

Burgess - keynoteBiography

Adam Burgess is Professor of Risk Research at the University of Kent, where he teaches both undergraduate and postgraduate courses on social risk studies. He has been researching the social and political dynamics of public risk issues since the late 1980s from an interdisciplinary perspective. He is the author and editor of 40 books, research articles and book chapters, including Cellular Phones, Public Fears and a Culture of Precaution (Cambridge University Press, 2004) and, most recently, the Routledge Handbook of Risk Studies (2016) and Sage Major Works: Risk (4 vols., 2017). He plays an active role in the ISA risk and uncertainty network, is a research associate of the Centre for the Analysis of Risk and Regulation at the London School of Economics and was a visiting research fellow last year on Princeton University’s programme on systemic risk. His current interests are primarily historical, and is currently working on a book retracing the evolution of a risk-centred society in the UK from the 1980s. Some of his papers can be seen at:

Murray Lee

Murray Lee - Keynote for Singapore conference 10-12 April 2017


Murray Lee is a Professor in Criminology at the Sydney Law School. He is the author of Inventing Fear of Crime: Criminology and the Politics of Anxiety (2007), co-author of Policing and Media: Public Relations, Simulations and Communications (2014), co-author of Sexting and Young People (2015), co-editor of Fear of Crime: Critical Voices in an Age of Anxiety (2009), editor of the scholarly journal Current Issues in Criminal Justice, and author of over 50 refereed journal articles and book chapters. Murray’s research focuses broadly on representations and perceptions of crime and how these lead to processes of criminalisation. This includes the increasing mediatization of crime and crime control and the development of new forms of media and communication that both create new crime risks and new anxieties, but also new forms of surveillance, control and governance. His current research interests involve fear of crime, police body-worn cameras, policing and the media, 'sexting' and young people and crime prevention. He has been a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics, University of Lausanne, and the University of Liverpool.

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University of Liverpool in Singapore

Block 29B Tampines Avenue 1


Singapore, 138682


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