NEGOTIATING INSECURITY: LAW, PSYCHOANALYTIC SOCIAL THEORY AND THE DILEMMAS OF THE WORLD RISK SOCIETY by ProQuest

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									                          NEGOTIATING INSECURITY: LAW,
                      PSYCHOANALYTIC SOCIAL THEORY AND THE
                       DILEMMAS OF THE WORLD RISK SOCIETY

                                                            John D. Cash*

             –—…Yet in these societies surrounded and traversed by forms of protection,
             preoccupations over security remain omnipresent. It is impossible to evade the troubling
             character of this fact by pretending that the sense of insecurity is only a delusion of the rich
             who have forgotten the price of blood and of tears, and the time when life was harsh and
             cruel. It bears such social and political effects that it has well and truly become a part of our
             reality, even playing a large role in structuring our social experience. Let us agree: though the
             greatest forms of violence and social decline have been to a great extent repressed, concern
             over security is very much a popular preoccupation, in the strongest sense of that term.

             How can we make sense of this paradox? It leads to the hypothesis that it would be wrong
             to think of insecurity and the forms of protection as opposites, as if they belong to two
             contrary registers of collective experience. Modern insecurity stems not from the absence of
             protection, but almost from its opposite, it emerges from the unclarity of the scope of
             protection in a social universe that has been organized around the endless pursuit of
             protection and a frantic search for security. What does it mean to be protected in these
             conditions? It is not to be installed in the certainty of power, with absolute mastery over the
             risks of existence, but rather to live surrounded by systems of securitization that are complex
             and fragile constructions, and carry within them the risk of failing in their task and deceiving
             us by not living up to the expectations which their construction brought with them. The
             search for protections will itself create insecurity. The reason being that the sense of insecurity is not
             an immediate given of human consciousness. On the contrary, it is wedded to different historical
             configurations, because security and insecurity are used to indicate attitudes towards types of
             protection that a society assures, or does not assure, in an adequate manner. In other words,
             today to be protected is also to be threatened. The challenge to be raised will be to better


*   Dr. John Cash is an honorary Fellow in the School of Philosophy, Anthropology and Social Inquiry at the University of
    Melbourne. He is also an editor of the Journal of Postcolonial Studies. His publications include Identity, Ideology and Conflict; the
    structuration of politics in Northern Ireland, Cambridge University Press, and a series of articles and chapters that draw critically on
    social and psychoanalytic theory in order to develop novel approaches to the analysis of social relations, subjectivity and
    entrenched political and ethnic conflict. The most recent of these is ‘Squaring some vicious circles: transforming the political
    in Northern Ireland’ in Consociational Theory, Routledge, 2009. His forthcoming book, co-authored with Joy Damousi, is titled
    Footy Passions and will be published by UNSW Press later this year. He is also co-editing, with Gabriele Schwab, a book titled
    The Postcolonial Unconscious. A longer-term project focuses on ‘Insecurity’. Mailing address: School of Philosophy, Anthropology
    and Social Inquiry, University of Melbou
								
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