Rhetorics of Insecurity

Belonging and Violence in the Neoliberal Era

268 pages

1 b/w photograph

August, 2013

ISBN: 9780814708439



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Zeynep Gambetti is Associate Professor of Political Theory at Bogaziçi University, Istanbul.

All books by Zeynep Gambetti

Marcial Godoy-Anativia is Associate Director of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics at New York University, where he serves as co-editor of its online journal e-misférica.

All books by Marcial Godoy-Anativia

In Rhetorics of Insecurity, Zeynep Gambetti and Marcial Godoy-Anativia bring together a select group of scholars to investigate the societal ramifications of the present-day concern with security in diverse contexts and geographies. The essays claim that discourses and practices of security actually breed insecurity, rather than merely being responses to the latter. By relating the binary of security/insecurity to the binary of neoliberalism/neoconservatism, the contributors to this volume reveal the tensions inherent in the proliferation of individualism and the concurrent deployment of techniques of societal regulation around the globe. Chapters explore the phenomena of indistinction, reversal of terms, ambiguity, and confusion in security discourses. Scholars of diverse backgrounds interpret the paradoxical simultaneity of the suspension and enforcement of the law through a variety of theoretical and ethnographic approaches, and they explore the formation and transformation of forms of belonging and exclusion. Ultimately, the volume as a whole aims to understand one crucial question: whether securitized neoliberalism effectively spells the end of political liberalism as we know it today.


  • “Cumulative decades of research come together in Rhetorics of Insecurity to provide readers with a wide-ranging collection of ethnographies, historical analyses, political theories, and discursive critiques. As many scholars who study neoliberalism will attest, there is an academic tendency to homogenize its effects, and the breadth of this text is one of its key strengths. The authors all provide compelling and unique perspectives, and each essay is well-written.”

    International Journal of Communications

  • "The contributors to this volume disassemble some familiar contemporary binaries to reveal the contradictions and surprising continuities that comprise them. The result is a powerful and convincing collection that integrates diverse phenomena—(in)security, neoliberalism, citizenship, law, violence—that too often are understood in isolation. Historical, ethnographic, and comparative, the collection will appeal to scholars and students in a variety of disciplines, and is sure to become a standard reference in critical studies of security."

    —Daniel M. Goldstein, author of Outlawed: Between Security and Rights in a Bolivian City

  • "This book explains many mysterious things: like the strange, increasingly violent permutations of the state as it responds to mafias, ethnicity, and ‘NGOs’; and the puzzling emptying out and uncanny revivification of law, freedom, democracy, and identity. Basically, what is really going on in the world today. It is sobering, spirited, and necessary, connecting places and ideas we’ll need to think with and beyond to get out of here alive."

    —Diane M. Nelson, author of Reckoning: The Ends of War in Guatemala