Context Column


The Knowledge Politics of Security in the Anthropocene

Evidence is mounting that the planet has entered a new geological epoch: the Anthropocene. The Anthropocene names the age in which humanity took control over the planet and pushed the Earth System into a new disequilibrium stage, with potentially catastrophic implications. The DFG-funded project “The Knowledge Politics of Security in the Anthropocene” seeks to develop a new perspective at international security in the Anthropocene epoch. The project starts from the assumption that planetary change and related security risks do not simply exist out there. Rather, they are being constructed and enacted through the discourses and practices of whole range of professionals in multiple ways. The proposed project develops a new theoretical framework that allows studying the growing convergence of knowledge and security practices in the Anthropocene by linking practice-based approaches to security on the one hand and approaches of visual security, or visual securitization, on the other. Equipped with this framework the project asks how knowledge of security risks in the Anthropocene is produced, how it is disseminated (or blocked), transferred, challenged and reinterpreted and implemented within the security field. To answer these questions the project draws upon three in-depth case studies. A first case study looks at practices of environmental remote sensing as an attempt to provide foresight products that predict and prevent future environmental security risks. A second case study deals with practices of resilience promotion, i.e. security practices, which accept the radical uncertainty of the world and hence focus on increasing the preparedness of vulnerable people, communities or systems. A third case study investigates geoengineering projects as a form of preemptive security policy that seeks intervention into the Earth system to steer it in desired directions.