Politics has just published a Special Issue on ‘Security and the Politics of Resilience’. The Special Issue is edited by James Brassett, Stuart Croft, and Nick Vaughan-Williams (Warwick University) and focuses on the nature and complexities of the concept of resilience. In recent years the concept of resilience has come to frame security discourses particularly – though not exclusively – in the UK context. Taken as whole, the volume focuses on the politics of resilience in diverse empirical settings and addresses questions such as: How we should understand resilience? What is stake in the rise of resilience? Who benefits from resilience and what are the political effects of its societal cultivation? The collection features an agenda for resilience research in Politics and International Relations, covering issues as diverse as cyber-security, international state-building, and the 2011 UK riots. Additionally, the Special Issue features an interview with leading resilience practitioner Helen Braithwaite OBE, head of the resilience and emergencies division of the UK government’s Department of Communities and Local Government. The volume will be free to access until February 2014 and can be accessed via this link: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ponl.2013.33.issue-4/issuetoc.
I have written a new post on the politics of networked life for the Newcastle Politics Culture, Security, Identity blog at e-IR. In it, I look at the questions raised by the idea of a right to the internet and the way in which recent NSA spying has revealed the way in which our discussions about such rights are insufficiently developed. Here’s an excerpt:
The assumption of a right to connection and the reduction of discussion of its dimensions to practical concerns about access mask a deeper set of social and political dynamics. On the one hand, the conjunction of Facebook and the UN around a right to the internet shows the way in which the idea of a networked world has penetrated our thinking of contemporary global life. Life itself is no longer understood as individual, but rather as a constellation of relations. While relations with others have always been important, rights have generally been possessed by individuals thought of as single autonomous units of social and political life. However, the right to the internet reveals a different model of social and political life. Instead of individuals, we are nodes in networks (both physical and virtual – wires and relationships). Indeed, we can only achieve our full potential by connecting, that is by abandoning the idea of an autonomous individual and becoming enmeshed in the network.
As I have written elsewhere, in a networked world we cannot avoid being exposed virtually and physically: we are exposed to ideas and relationships; and we are exposed to a dependence on connecting infrastructures. Our life is characterised by being able to expose ourselves; to withdraw from exposure is to have no life at all. And yet there is little discussion of the politics of this exposure.
According to this perspective blocking military action will give succour to Assad and potentially emboldens those that would use Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) or commit crimes against humanity.
This seems to me to be a very partial reading of the outcome of last night’s vote. On twitter I have indicated that I think there are 4 points those arguing that a failure to authorise strikes on Syria are failing to acknowledge:
Route of the South East Asia-Middle East-West Europe 4 (SEA-ME-WE 4) cable
On 6th June 2012 internet access to Bangladesh was severely disrupted when the South-East Asia – Middle East – Western Europe 4 (SEA-ME-WE 4) cable was damaged. The SEA-ME-WE 4 cable runs from France to Malaysia and is operated by a consortium of public and private organisations. The cable is Bangladesh’s only point of connection to the grid of fibre-optic cables that form the backbone of the global internet. Damage to the cable left the 5% of the Bangladesh population who are estimated to have internet access facing severe difficulty in accessing online services. News reports indicate that in addition to affecting individual customers’ email and browsing, work in Bangladesh’s garment industry – which relies on connectivity to communicate with clients – was disrupted by the outage. Continue reading Infrastructure: The importance of failure»