Seminar by Thomas Kirsch: Securing security. Thoughts on the Proliferation of ‘Security' in South Africa (and Elsewhere)

Drawing on ethnographic case studies on crime and crime prevention in present-day urban South Africa, this seminar starts out from the empirical observation that, once they have been implemented, security measures like the employment of CCTV cameras, security guards or barbed-wire fences need to be secured if they are to be maintained in the face of potentially adversarial forces. It is for this reason that security measures are not self-supporting stand-alones but embedded in and sustained by further security linkages. Diverse ethnographic examples will show that this process entails a “rooting" of security in the specific sociocultural contexts in which it is brought to bear. It deals  with the recursive dynamic of "securing security”, thus addressing a seemingly paradoxical way in which security agendas proliferate through a capillary permeation of ever more domains of life in South Africa (and elsewhere).

Chair: Prof. Rijk van Dijk, ASCL

Thomas KirschThomas G. Kirsch is Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Konstanz, Germany. He has published two books on African Christianity in Zambia, one of them entitled Spirits and Letters: Reading, Writing and Charisma in African Christianity (Oxford, 2008), as well as articles in some of the major refereed journals for anthropology (e.g., Africa; American Anthropologist; American Ethnologist). He has also co-edited Domesticating Vigilantism in Africa (Oxford, 2010, together with Tilo Grätz) and Regimes of Ignorance: Anthropological Perspectives on the Production and Reproduction of Non-Knowledge (Oxford, 2015, together with Roy Dilley). In more recent years, he has also conducted fieldwork on issues of crime, violence and security in South Africa.

Date, time and location

08 February 2018
11.00 - 12.30 (Please note this seminar begins at 11.00 instead of the customary 15.30.)
Pieter de la Courtgebouw / Faculty of Social Sciences, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK Leiden
Room 1A21 (first floor)