v8n1_14 - BOOK REVIEWS The State of Securitization Theory:...

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The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations BOOK REVIEWS The State of Securitization Theory: A Review of The Politics of Insecurity by Kapil Gupta The Politics of Insecurity: Fear, Migration and Asylum in the EU. By Jef Huysmans. London: Routledge, 2006. 191 pp. $120, hardcover. ISBN 0-415-36124- 9. Distinctions exist between European and American academic discussions of security as a subfield of international relations. 1 Jef Huysmans’ The Politics of Insecurity: Fear, Migration and Asylum in the EU is a compelling introduction to current trends in European security studies. The book also has relevance beyond the academy. For security practitioners, The Politics of Insecurity offers an opportunity for critical self-awareness. Through careful critique, Huysmans advances the Copenhagen School’s theory of “securitization.” His explanation of “security framing” describes how government and public approaches to security are generated, the contextual conceptualization of security itself, and how these definitions correspond with governmental and administrative security techniques. Following an initial theoretical exegesis, securitization theory is applied to an examination of immigration, asylum, and refugee policy in the context of the European Union. Huysmans’ securitization thesis emphasizes the constructed quality of security definitions by questioning what is being secured and the consequent governmental techniques of securitization qua policy responses to publicly perceived threats. Securitization theory illustrates how the rhetoric of security reifies political and policy solutions by invoking an imagined unity, threatened by outside forces: “Securitization constitutes political unity by means of placing it in an existentially hostile environment and asserting an obligation to free it from threat.” 2 Securitization itself can be interpreted as a technique or tool of governmental security practices. Taken to an extreme, the thesis could suggest that any particular security discourse can be reduced to “wag the dog” rhetoric in which interested Kapil Gupta is a US Foreign Service Officer. He is a graduate of Cornell Law School, the London School of Economics and Political Science, and Bard College. The views expressed are the author’s own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Government. 181
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GUPTA The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations government actors consciously construct public perceptions in order to justify particular solutions. Such deconstructions run the risk of reducing policymaking and governance to sophisticated conspiracies. The more robust use of the securitization approach requires further theory. To reach beyond the limits of subject-object antinomy, securitization can instead be understood as a process where public and government actors are nearly co-equal constituting forces. Using Bourdieu’s terms, the secured public and the securing state
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v8n1_14 - BOOK REVIEWS The State of Securitization Theory:...

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