Death and security

Memory and mortality at the bombsite

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.


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