Secrecy and (In)Security: New Perspectives

Secrecy and (In)Security: New Perspectives

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Pervasive Media Studio

1 Canon's Road



United Kingdom

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This workshop explores the ways in which the study of secrecy can add to our understanding of the causes and legacies of violent conflict. Contributors are invited to reflect on the ways secrecy may function as an essential part of the structures of power/knowledge in state and security-making, including through resistant and dissenting practices. This includes consideration of the interconnections between secrecy and practices of concealing, deceiving, lying, obfuscating, ignoring and de-sensing, and includes exploring the relationship between secrecy and the unseen and unheard, the hidden, the absent, the opaque and the fake through gendered, sexed, ableist and racialised ways of knowing.

In other words, this workshop looks to engage with areas of investigation that include, but are not limited to:

  • studies of secrecy practices from physical and rhetorical strategies of deception to the cultural and ideological, such as the generation of wilful ignorance, cultural erasure, and ideological closure;

  • accounts of how secrecy, security and state-making intersect with racial, gendered, ableist and queer discourses;

  • work focused on representations and materialities of the secret in order to understand how they form part of security and state-making discourses;

  • analyses of security theories as premised on conceptions of the secret;

  • arguments for secrecy as resistance and dissent, in addition to secrecy as control and domination;

  • investigations into the interconnections between personal and intimate forms of secrecy and the national, state, international and/or global in security discourses;

  • explorations of the intersection between the concept(s) of secrecy and, for example, the uncanny, mystery, invisibility, or the converse, revelation, transparency; and

  • examinations of the (dis)continuities in discourses between state, secrecy and security across time.

Confirmed speakers include: Oliver Kearns (University of Edinburgh), Brian Rappert (University of Exeter), Lisa Stampnitzky (University of Sheffield), Clare Stevens (University of Bristol), Owen Thomas (University of Exeter), Elspeth Van Veeren (University of Bristol), William Walters (Carleton University).

This workshop is funded with generous support from the University of Bristol’s Global Insecurity Centre and Gender Research Centre, the Faculty of Social Science and Law, and the Brigstow Institute; as well as from the British International Studies Association’s Colonial, Postcolonial, and Decolonial Working Group, the Gendering International Relations Working Group, and the Post-structural Politics Working Group.

Image:The Secret, by Felix Nussbaum (Brussels, November 1939). Oil on canvas, 61 x 74 cm.