Interdisciplinary Workshop on the History and Politics of a Persistent Security Device
Thursday - Friday // 21 - 22 November 2019
Herder Institute | Lecture Hall | Gisonenweg 5-7 | 35037 Marburg
This workshop explores historical and contemporary forms of the pledge as a uniquely cross-disciplinary tool and practice of security. From the Greek symbolon to mortgage, warranty, bail, and seal, the pledge calls up an age-old history of securing or crediting an expectation, relation, or undertaking that is curiously absent from the modern disciplinary landscape. The pledge spans legal, financial, and security aspects yet has no prominent place in law, economics, or security studies. Casting a wide net, this workshop aims to take a first step towards a cross-sectional account of the history and politics of the pledge and its continuing relevance today. This comprehensive perspective shall serve to detect the peculiarities of distinct forms of pledge, as well as form a basis to collectively explore how these can inform the theorization of security.
Questions this workshop seeks to address are:
- What types of pledge exist throughout the ages? Why have specific forms, such as oaths, hostages, seals or tally sticks, appeared and disappeared?
- How were types of pledge interpreted by contemporary actors and did they become associated semantically with security?
- How does a history of pledge complement or disturb the history of security as protection?
- How does an understanding of the 'original' performative act of the oath (Austin) as security affect securitisation theory?
- What underlying notions of uncertainty/insecurity do practices of contract security reflect? What temporality do they entail and produce?
- How does the pledge produce credit? What values does it mobilise and/or rely on?
- What form of power does the pledge display as basis and limit of political liability? What voluntary/coercive aspects of power are involved?
- What does a theoretical focus on and excavation of the pledge mean for modern disciplinary boundaries?