Ontological Security: A Holistic Framework for Analysis

Muirhead Tower, Room 415
Monday 20 June 2016 (12:00-13:30)

Speaker: Professor Catarina Kinnvall (Lund University)
Chair: Dr Tereza Capelos (University of Birmingham)

In this presentation I outline the immense potential ontological security research has for understanding world politics through its combined focus on macro and micro politics, and its ability to combine instrumental and affective approaches to identity and security. In doing this I expand the notion of ontological security to account for both conscious and unconscious processes in understanding identity formation in International Relations Theory, broadly speaking. Consequently I problematize some crucial concepts in ontological security research focused on stability and chaos, security and insecurity, and conformity and resistance. In so doing I take a three-step approach, starting with an outline of how ontological security studies provide a challenge to realist, liberal and neo-liberal conceptions of security and how it offers a more holistic view of security than can be found in much critical security research. I then move on to establish what ontological security does to the subject matter of analysis when moving towards an anti-foundational view of self, other and identity – one that takes into account both collective unconscious processes and creativity and resistance. Finally, I outline a number of empirical studies in which an ontological security approach has changed the analytical focus to account for a number of unspoken, performative processes and their psychological and affective dimensions.


Catarina Kinnvall is Professor in the Department of Political Science at Lund University in Sweden. She is editor of the journal Political Psychology and also a former Vice President of the International Society of Political Psychology (ISPP). Her research interests include political psychology, security, globalization, radicalization, religion, and nationalism, with a particular focus on South Asia and Europe. She is the author of The Political Psychology of Globalization: Muslims in the West (co-authored, Oxford UP) and Globalization and Religious Nationalism in India: The Search for Ontological Security (Routledge), co-editor of Governing Borders and Security: The Politics of Connectivity and Dispersal (Routledge); The Palgrave Handbook of Political Psychology (Palgrave); On Behalf of Others: The Psychology of Care in a Global World (Oxford UP), and author of numerous articles and book chapters. Catarina’s webpage is available here: http://www.lunduniversity.lu.se/lucat/user/5ea430fa6877206a15696fd218c09d4f

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