Aesthetics of security and Achille Mbembe's Postcolony

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Title: Aesthetics of security and Achille Mbembe's Postcolony
Author: Reenkola, Aino Sofia
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Development Studies
Date: 2009-10-05
Thesis level: master's thesis
Abstract: My purpose in this paper is to build an aesthetic approach to security, which I use to analyze the nature of political power and subjectivity in the African postcolonial state. I approach security by comparing the African postcolonial state, as described by Achille Mbembe in his book On the Postcolony, and the liberal democratic welfare state, as defined in Frank Ankersmit's Aesthetic Politics: Political Philosophy Beyond Fact and Value. These books approach politics aesthetically. By the aesthetics of security, I refer to the idea that collective security builds on the emotional and sensual relationships between individuals, and correspondingly, that the lack of collective security implies problems in these relationships. By studying how the relationships among political subjects translate into political reality, I aim at defining the connection between democracy and security. In the African postcolonial state, the political reality is characterized by security problems (such as violence, poverty, and the state's arbitrary rule) and the inability of the political subjects to engage in political debate. In the democratic state, security has become a self-evidence, and politics are routinized to the extent that the political object disappears. The political subjects become dull members whose passivity threatens to evade democratic decision-making. I analyse the nature of African postcolonial political subjectivity through a broad concept of security that attaches to security political, social and economical sides. Following the Copenhagen school of critical security studies, I define security as a socially constructed phenomenon. The main question of interest is how security, defined in terms of aesthetics, connects to democracy and political representation. Security is trust between individuals. Individuals who trust each other can cooperate in order to achieve a common good. This is the basic idea behind democracy. In addition to analyzing the relationship between security and democracy inside of states, I take the analysis to the inter-state level, where historical relationships between states and the structures of the global economy affect the states' ability to manage their internal affairs. The postcolonial state lacks both internal and external sovereignty, which causes insecurity. External conditions distort the representative relationship between the state and the civil society, and hence prevent internal cohering of state structures and the building of legitimacy. Democracies are better able to promote their interests in the international arena; hence, democracy is the 'least bad' model of political organization. Development discourse is increasingly concerned with postcolonial security problems, since they have effects that cross international borders. However, democracy and political autonomy cannot be given from outside, but can only develop through the mutual interaction between the state and the civil society. In this interaction, the role of security is essential.
Description: Endast sammandrag. Inbundna avhandlingar kan sökas i Helka-databasen ( Elektroniska kopior av avhandlingar finns antingen öppet på nätet eller endast tillgängliga i bibliotekets avhandlingsterminaler.Only abstract. Paper copies of master’s theses are listed in the Helka database ( Electronic copies of master’s theses are either available as open access or only on thesis terminals in the Helsinki University Library.Vain tiivistelmä. Sidottujen gradujen saatavuuden voit tarkistaa Helka-tietokannasta ( Digitaaliset gradut voivat olla luettavissa avoimesti verkossa tai rajoitetusti kirjaston opinnäytekioskeilla.
Discipline: Development Studies

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