Interpreting security: grounding the Copenhagen school in Kyrgyzstan

Wilkinson, Claire (2009). Interpreting security: grounding the Copenhagen school in Kyrgyzstan. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis presents a critique of the Copenhagen School's conceptualisation of security via an exploration of the socio-political situation in post-Akaev Kyrgyzstan. Centrally, I consider how different forms of knowledge can inform our interpretations of security. I argue that it is vital to challenge the underlying normative assumptions of the securitization and societal security, which manifest as a disciplinary "Westphalian straitjacket", if we are to produce accounts of places such as Kyrgyzstan that are not founded on stereotypes and untested assumptions. I argue that it is necessary to prioritise context when using theoretical concepts in order to fully situate our research. Adopting an interpretive approach not only in relation to Kyrgyzstan, but also securitization theory, I highlight the pluralities and contradictions of how security means in different settings and on different analytical levels. The issues raised are explored via the reflexive consideration of a number of protests in Bishkek, as well as discussion of the wider socio-cultural and political setting of post-Akaev Kyrgyzstan. I conclude that loosening the Westphalian straitjacket that currently restricts the normative and empirical utility of the Copenhagen School, and IR more generally, is a crucial step towards a more complex and nuanced understanding of security.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: Department of Political Science and International Studies
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DK Russia. Soviet Union. Former Soviet Republics
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)


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