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ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION “Spatializing Security and Terror”

When Dec 14, 2016
from 01:30 to 03:00
Where Phil I, GCSC, R.001
Contact Name
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**This event is part 2 of the series “Spatializing Security and Terror” in cooperation with the SFB “Dynamics of Security”**

Part 1 of the event series: Reading Retreat, December 13, 2016 (10am-5pm)

Part 3 of the event series: Masterclass with J. Völz, January 31, 2017 (10am-2pm)


In recent months, public places such as concert arenas, city squares, airports and means of infrastructure have increasingly become the target of terror-attacks inside and outside of Europe, making “terror” one of the key concerns of politics as well as national and international security cooperation. Many steps have been taken to confront, prevent and fight these assaults my means of increased control and surveillance of public spaces as well as a nationalization of discourse, in which the notion of physical and mental borders has become increasingly important again.

Consequently, the imminence of terror as an unsettling event is becoming an experience that soars into society as a constant threat and fear, structuring and restructing modes of everyday life. At the same time, these fears are harvested and fueled around ideological premises of a constant, potential threat by the securitized “other”, which again serves as the basis for justifying the suspension of human rights on notions of the prevention and preemption of potential risk. Notions of Risk and security are instrumentalized by ever louder discourses that criminalize, and racialize those at the margins of society. Muslim migrants and refugees are structured as “cultural others” who are collectively punished by right wing political and public discourses as embodying a risk to the “civilized” Western world.

In cultural studies, however, the debate around “terrorism” has not yet become a key subject that is been tackled on theoretically and empirically. Only few books and studies have attempted to conceptualize a term that is not only a phenomenon, but also an ongoing process of shaping and reshaping society politically, spatially and “culturally”. It is time then, we argue, that cultural studies engage in the conversation and debate about this process and phenomenon, contributing meaningful and critical accounts and perspectives to the debate, questioning simplified and essentializing notions of culture, terrorism, space and the link between them. Hence, this was one of the rationales for the Research Area 7 “Globalization and Politics of Space” to set up this event series.

For the roundtable discussion with our invited experts, we are especially interested about the spatial dimension of terror/terrorism and the ways and modes the concept is being mobilized in order to shape and reshape discourse and practices around borders, bodies and identities, but also materialize in concrete forms of (de)territorialization and (re)negotiations of public and private spaces.


Questions that may be put up for discussion:

-What is the genealogy, the of knowledge of the idea of “terror/terrorism”?

-How do responses to terror employ concepts of space, create spatial differences and lead to a (re)negotiation of space?

-How is our knowledge about terror/terrorism shaped? Who is perceived as terrorist, what acts are structured as terrorist attacks and how may these perceptions change, be different at different times?

-How is space being (re)reconfigured symbolically (imagination, representation, mapping) and/or materially by acts of terrorism but also by (political) responses to these?

-How can fundamentalism and/or terror be understood vis a vis global inequalities and a radical critique of modernity?


A catalogue of further questions will also be developed during the reading retreat on December 13.


//Lecturers/Participants: Prof. Bernd Belina (Frankfurt), Prof. Stuart Elden (Warwick), Prof. Peter Haslinger (Marburg), Moderation: Prof. Andreas Langenohl (Gießen)

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