Death is simultaneously silent, and very loud, in political life. Politicians and media scream about potential threats lurking behind every corner, but academic discourse often neglects mortality. Life is everywhere in theorisation of security, but death is nowhere. Making a bold intervention into the Critical Security Studies literature, this book explores the ontological relationship between mortality and security after the Death of God – arguing that security emerged in response to the removal of promises to immortal salvation. Combining the mortality theories of Heidegger and Bauman with literature from the sociology of death, Heath-Kelly shows how security is a response to the death anxiety implicit within the human condition. The book explores the theoretical literature on mortality before undertaking a comparative exploration of the memorialisation of four prominent post-terrorist sites: the World Trade Center in New York, the Bali bombsite, the London bombings and the Norwegian sites attacked by Anders Breivik. By interviewing the architects and designers of these reconstruction projects, Heath-Kelly shows that practices of memorialization are a retrospective security endeavour – they conceal and re-narrate the traumatic incursion of death. Disaster recovery is replete with security practices that return mortality to its sublimated position and remove the disruption posed by mortality to political authority. The book will be of significant interest to academics and postgraduates working in the fields of Critical Security Studies, Memory Studies and International Politics.
permanent, consistent and objective. As such, these philosophers argue
that mortality drives the development of cultural and political
techniques that efface the inevitability of death by performing
stability and permanent meaning.
I develop this philosophical trajectory here by reading
security practice as sociologyofdeath. Security, and the state that
deploys it, are responsive to the aporia of
Having Outlined a theoretical
conception of security (in both prophylactic and resilient forms) as the
effacement of mortality, the rest of this book explores security
practices to test the reading. Do they mitigate mortality? In
particular, the book interrogates non-anticipatory practices of
security. It argues that by reading security as sociologyofdeath, one
sociologyofdeath in the era of resilience, where ‘death’
is supposedly brought inside the security paradigm as unpreventable
danger? I will argue here that nothing significant has changed since
previous eras of security. Security still effaces the prospect of
mortality; however, resilience is somewhat more sophisticated in its
Bauman’s exploration of the shift in mortality
contemporary presence and absence of death’ in Clark, D. (ed.), The SociologyofDeath: Theory, Culture and Practice (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers,
1993), p. 17.
20 Foucault, ‘Different spaces’, p. 6.
21 Laqueur, ‘Cemeteries, religion and the culture of capitalism’.
22 J. Roach, Cities of the Dead: Circum-Atlantic Performance (New York:
Columbia University Press, 1996), p. 48.
23 Michel Ragon, The Space of Death: A Study in Funerary Architecture,
Decoration and Urbanism, trans. A. Sheridan (Charlottesville, VA:
University Press of Virginia, 1983), p. 16.