Anthropology and Environment Society
Oral Presentation Session
Abstract: The term security has become a common suffix to major resources. Water security. Food security. Biosecurity. Energy security. Climate security. The trend reflects not only the multiple arenas that militarization has entered, but also how security regimes are inflected in the procurement, storage, depletion, and degradation of resources. Environment-security dyads have become the basis of policy making and funding allocation, as well as ways of conceptualizing people’s interactions with non-human worlds and patterns of social inequality. But what does resource security actually mean? What models of the world are imagined, for the relationship between people and their environments, in the name of security?
This panel unpacks security as an operationalized concept by considering the political implications of attaching the suffix “security” to vital resources. It draws together papers that explore the multiple ways in which resources can become bound up with questions of security, from staple foods in Egypt to dam projects in Pakistan, multispecies management on the Israel/Palestine border to water transfers from Lesotho, nuclear waste management and flood disasters in the US to refugees fleeing Syria.
We are interested, first, in the processes and technologies that are employed in the imperative of secure, uninterrupted resource flows from now into the future, and from certain places to others. From water reservoirs to grain silos, rural landscapes to nuclear waste drums, how is it that particular infrastructures have become affiliated with strategy, planning, and security? Second, we are interested in the logics and expertise that define what it means to be secure. What forms of measurement and ways of knowing are both captured within and excluded from security frameworks? Third, we are interested in the lived experience of security. How does the security striven for by government officials intersect with or depart from the everyday experience of (in)security of various peoples who live within those regimes?
As security related concerns continue to reverberate around us, with alarmist claims about the possibility of climate-driven conflict and world water wars, the stakes for understanding what we mean when we “secure” resources are high. Bringing together papers on a variety of themes at the interface of resources and security, this panel will contribute to scholarship on precarity, militarization, and the environment.