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CGED Research Seminar Series

Security's Porosity

Security's Porosity

Speaker: Timothy Gitzen, Postdoctoral Fellow, Society of Fellows in the Humanities, Faculty of Arts, HKU

Respondent: Alvin K Wong, Assistant Professor, Department of Comparative Literature, School of Humanities, HKU

Moderator: Mercedes Vázquez, Lecturer and Honorary Assistant Professor, Spanish Programme, School of Modern Languages and Cultures, HKU

Date: 19 April 2021 (Monday)

Time: 7:30 PM

Delivery: via Zoom

Anthropological, feminist, queer, trans, and critical race theorists have over the last decade expanded the concept of security, interrogating how security both relies on and deepens systems of inequality, oppression, and dispossession. This piece asks a simple but enduring question: how do we live despite security? Answering this question, I argue, requires attention to the unexpected, the unintended, and the unplanned mutations, found within security’s porosity: the holes and voids of security that give way to practices of survival, endurance, and resignification. Pulling from fieldwork in South Korea, I demonstrate how hybrids and mutations form within security’s process of sieving purity, a material and discursive practice tasked with separating desirables from undesirables, human from nonhuman, and safety from threat. Spanning the realms of infrastructure, species, and data, this snapshot of life despite security suggests that these hybrids are immanent to the practices and discourses tasked with eradicating them. Patching together pieces of ethnography across these domains to envisage modes of living despite, I contend, is both a methodological and theoretical endeavor that refocuses attention from security’s object (the nation, the population, Society) to its porosity.

Timothy Gitzen is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at the University of Hong Kong. He is an anthropologist and queer theorist, and his research focuses on the intersection of sexuality, queer politics, and national security in South Korea. His work has appeared in TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly and is forthcoming in Current Anthropology, Cultural Studies, and positions

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