Website: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/global-insecurities/

Established in 2009, the Global Insecurities Centre (GIC) conducts research on the emergent insecurities of our complex and interconnected world. Our work is multifaceted and interdisciplinary, with a focus on the uneven and contested nature of contemporary insecurities, the political consequences of the uncertainty this engenders, and the often emergent and bottom-up nature of our responses to them. In this way, we emphasise a complex picture of multiple actors in dialogue with the insecurities that face them, and the opportunities for positive transformation and change that such circumstances present.

Aims and objectives

Our aim is to advance the intellectual agenda of global insecurities and to significantly increase our profile and impact in the wider field. The GIC is characterised by:

  • A vibrant research community, comprising academic staff, postdoctoral researchers and PhD students.
  • Interdisciplinary scholarship, drawing on security studies, international relations, development studies, sociology and politics.
  • Theoretical diversity, fostering conversations between colleagues working in traditions of constructivism, feminist political theory, historiography, institutionalism, post-structuralism and subaltern realism.
  • Wide-ranging area studies expertise, including Latin America, South Asia, South East Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Western Balkans.
  • Critical impact and networking with policy makers and other stakeholder groups.
  • Cross-disciplinary networking with the natural sciences and engineering. Research-led teaching in MSc’s on International Security, Development and Security and across the SPAIS teaching programme as a whole.

Research themes

Within this framework, the work of the Centre is organised around four overlapping research themes:

  1. Theorising Insecurity (Evans, Herring, Michel, Pelopidas, Weldes, Zhang)
  2. Security Governance (Christie, Edmunds, Herring, Higate, Juncos, Zhang)
  3. Conflict, Security and Development (Christie, Duffield, Evans  Flint, Gainsborough, Herring, Hewitt, Payne, Tucker, Wyatt)
  4. Risk, Resilience and Technology (Downer, Edmunds, Pelopidas, Peoples, Weldes)

Our research themes provide a focused sense of intellectual purpose for research and collaboration amongst colleagues working on a range of different global insecurities. Our work is united by the following common features which are present across all four themes:

Insecurities and security

We foreground the politics of insecurity in our work. In so doing, we focus our attention on the diverse and complex insecurities which characterise the emergent global order and the adaptive and often contested nature of local responses to them, rather than understanding the quest for ‘security’ in and of itself as a panacea for global ill.

Criticality and engagement

Much of our work is critical of mainstream orthodoxies in security studies, in so far as we shift away from narrow understandings of the security of the state or top-down approaches to security governance. Even so, we remain committed to engaged scholarship with an impact in the real world and maintain ongoing dialogue with policy makers, the general public and other stakeholders.

Agency and transformation

We believe that addressing global insecurities is as much a political endeavour as it is a strategic, economic or technocratic challenge. To this end, we are concerned to uncover opportunities for agency and positive transformation in the insecurities we examine, in order that people can better live in dignity, safety and prosperity.

Bridging disciplinary divides

As well as drawing on distinct disciplinary traditions within the social sciences, we work closely with colleagues from the natural sciences and engineering. We employ science-derived approaches such as complex systems theory in our own research and contribute sociological and political perspectives to the work of colleagues in Earth Sciences, Engineering and elsewhere.