In this interview, I speak with Till F. Paasche and James D. Sidaway about their new book, Transecting Securityscapes: Dispatches from Cambodia, Iraq, and Mozambique (University of Georgia Press, 2021). In addition to the book's methodological and theoretical contributions, we also discussed the extensive field research and important personal experiences informing this project.
This is an innovative book on the everyday life of security, told via an examination of three sites: Cambodia, the Kurdistan region of Iraq, and Mozambique. The authors' study of how security is enacted differently in these three sites, taking account of the rich layers of context and culture, enables comparative reflections on diversity and commonality in "securityscapes."
The book puts into practice a diverse and contextual approach to security that contrasts with the aerial, big-picture view taken by many geopolitics scholars. In applying this grounded approach, Paasche and Sidaway develop a method of urban and territorial transects, combined with other methods and modes of encounter. The book draws on a broad range of traditions, but it speaks mostly to political geography, urban studies, and international relations research on geopolitics, stressing the need for ethnographic, embodied, affective, and place-based approaches to conflict. The result is a sustained theoretical critique of abstract research on geopolitical conflict and security-mainstream as well as academic-that pretends to be able to know and analyze conflict "from above."
Please note: the second half of this podcast includes discussion of combat, death and loss.
Till F. Paasche is Associate Professor of political geography at Soran University.
James D. Sidaway is Professor of political geography at the National University of Singapore.
Catriona Gold is a PhD candidate in Geography at University College London, researching security, subjectivity and mobility in the 20-21st century United States. Her current work concerns the US Passport Office; she has previously published on US Africa Command and the 2013-16 Ebola epidemic. She can be reached by email or on Twitter.
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