Engagement all the Way Down: Practice and Critique in International Politics

35th Käte Hamburger Lecture

With Prof. Dr Marieke de Goede (Professor of Political Science, University of Amsterdam)

This talk asked about the practices and forms of critique afforded at the intersection between Science-and-Technology Studies (STS) and the critical study of security politics. Can engagements with practice generate effective forms of critique? How does the attention to materialities and the fine-grained analysis of technical practices, that typically accompany STS-inspired research, feed into ways of practicing critique? How can the analytical attention to 'little security nothings', i.e. banal security devices and practices such as programming algorithms or looking at a CCTV surveillance feed, be translated into critical agendas?
A key message of the lecture was derived from Isabell Stengers' argument that critical practice is 'engagement all the way down'. In that sense, a non-judgmental critique suspends certainty and recognizes that political engagement is open-ended and to some extent unpredictable. It means that we linger with the problematisation. De Goede thinks through the ways in which the work of Stengers and others can be put in practice in qualitative critical security research. She identifies the notions of laughter, leveraging, joined risks and unexpected following as key pathways of non-judgemental critique. And in consequence one might (temporarily) find oneself in unlikely and uneasy alliances in the security domain.


Venue: LS 105 (NRW School of Governance), Lotharstraße 53, 47057 Duisburg

Date: February 11, 2020, 6:00 – 7:30 pm