Aufbauseminar: Critical Security Studies (WSF-polw-7 und 8) (200018)


The seminar addresses in detail the various approaches to the study of security within International Relations commonly referred to as Critical Security Studies (CSS). CSS refers to a broad range of different that evolved mainly from a joint criticism of Cold-War strategic studies with its narrow focus on states’ security, military threats and military means of safeguarding security. Along the lines of Max Horkheimer’s famous distinction between traditional and critical theory, beginning in the late 1980s and early 1990s, proponents of feminism, postcolonialism, poststructuralism and the Frankfurt School, among others, challenged the epistemological and ontological assumptions of “mainstream” security (strategic) studies (mainly the claim to objectivity) and problematized the role also of researchers in the reproduction of certain ways to see the world (for instance, to see certain problems or subjects as security matters as opposed to something else) and potentially ethically problematic consequences these might entail. The course will shed light both, on the sources of criticism of objectivist IR theory and security studies (much of which still applies today) as well as discuss examples for what substantive (“empirical”) research could look like from a critical perspective. The course is addressed to advances BA students. Prior basic knowledge about IR theory is highly recommended. The course will be offered in the English language.

Introductory Literature:

Browning, Christopher S. and Matt McDonald (2013) ‘The Future of Critical Security Studies: Ethics and the Politics of Security’, European Journal of International Relations 19(2): 235-55.

Regular Time: Tuesday 12-14