Spaces of Security

Ethnographies of Securityscapes, Surveillance, and Control

280 pages

10 illustrations

January, 2019

ISBN: 9781479870066



Add to Cart Available: 12/28/2018

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Setha Low is Professor of Anthropology, Environmental Psychology, Geography and Women’s Studies, and Director of the Public Space Research Group at The Graduate Center, CUNY. She is the author of many books, including Spatializing Culture: The Ethnography of Space and Place and Behind the Gates: Life, Security and the Pursuit of Happiness in Fortress America.

All books by Setha Low

Mark Maguire is Dean of Maynooth University Faculty of Social Sciences. His research explores counterterrorism training and operations in several European jurisdictions. He is coeditor of The Anthropology of Security and Bodies as Evidence.

All books by Mark Maguire

An ethnographic investigation into the dynamics between space and security in countries around the world 
It is difficult to imagine two contexts as different as a soccer stadium and a panic room. Yet, they both demonstrate dynamics of the interplay between security and space. This book focuses on the infrastructures of security, considering locations as varied as public entertainment venues to border walls to blast-proof bedrooms. 
Around the world, experts, organizations, and governments are managing societies in the name of security, while scholars and commentators are writing about surveillance, state violence, and new technologies. Yet in spite of the growing emphasis on security, few truly consider the spatial dimensions of security, and particularly how the relationship between space and security varies across cultures.  
This volume explores spaces of security not only by attending to how security is produced by and in spaces, but also by emphasizing the ways in which it is constructed in the contemporary landscape. The book explores diverse contexts ranging from biometrics in India to counterterrorism in East Africa to border security in Argentina. The ethnographic studies demonstrate the power of a spatial lens to highlight aspects of security that otherwise remain hidden, while also adding clarity to an elusive and dangerous way of managing the world.


  • "What is security?  It is a dominating concern in contemporary society, but its meaning is elusive. This powerful collection offers a way to understand it.   The book uses the concept of “securityscape,” the landscape of security, to examine ethnographically the spatial and temporal dimensions of security, including its infrastructure – walls and borders – and its affective and imaginary worlds. It shows brilliantly how the concern with security both excludes and includes, exacerbating existing racial, gendered, and economic inequalities."

    —Sally Engle Merry, New York University

  • "An impressive collection of articles that address the spatial aspects of anthropological writings about security.  These articles demonstrate the ways the spatial could be used to provide a better understanding of aspects of security and insecurity in Kenya, Romania, border areas in Latin America, Brazil, South Africa, Israel, military bases in Guam and in the United States... a welcome addition to anthropological and other social science studies that address the multiple aspects of security at a specific moment."

    —Aseel Sawalha, Fordham University

  • "This pathbreaking volume brings together perspectives from anthropology, geography and political theory to put the securitization of home, body, borders and other quotidian spaces in a new conceptual light. With a fine eye to earlier theories, the authors also move us forward to re-imagine the relationship between security and insecurity, showing that these are not two sides of the same coin but two dynamic and co-produced space-making principles. It will be read and used by scholars and teachers across the human sciences."

    —Arjun Appadurai, Goddard Professor in Media, Culture and Communication, New York University