Challenging and Reframing the Security Discourse

The central idea behind this week’s readings is the reframing of security discourse, including that of environmental security and ecological security. In Environmental Security, Pirages suggests that we must reframe the security paradigm in order to take into account environmental security problems and issues. He states in Chapter 7 that we introduce new frameworks to support and strengthen the relationships between human societies and the planet as a whole. The four frameworks that Pirages introduces are:

  • Between human societies and natures resources and services
  • Between human societies and pathogenic microorganisms
  • Between human societies and populations of other animal species
  • Among human species.

In order to study ecological security effectively, we must use interdisciplinary research methods that would address the challenges of a changing natural environment, such as increasing large-scale natural disasters, demographic challenges including rapid population growth, large-scale migration, differential population growth and population aging and decline.

Detraz brings a new perspective to the table that we have not really discussed in class, nor has it been mentioned in the previous readings: gender. A major problem with the existing security discourse as well as the environmental security discourse is the lack of acknowledgement surrounding the different lived experiences of men and women. Environmental security studies the human cost of environmental issues and yet researchers and scholars often ignore the unique experiences of men and women. Detraz seeks to understand the experience of women and men in the face of environmental damage. She does this by proposing three different areas that need to take into account the effects of gender. They are environmental conflict, environmental security and ecological security.

The concept of environmental conflict is closely tied to state security, including resource conflict. However, the prevailing discourse and conceptualizations surrounding the field fail to take into the consequences of failing to acknowledge women, which may lead to unequal resource distribution or other societal problems in the future.  Within the environmental security sector which primarily looks at human security discourse, Detraz acknowledges that there is the highest potential for gender incorporation although it exists currently only looks at the human cost – which tends to invoke the idea of men as a default. In the field of ecological security, Detraz highlights the role of ecofeminism – the feminist struggle to save the environment, a concept that has existed in academic parlance since the 1970s.

Parenti commences Part II by providing a snapshot of a battle between the Turkana and Pokot tribes in Kenya. He looks at how unconventional warfare was shaped and formed – by societal issues, environmental factors, colonialism and the increase in technology. He looks at the breakdown of the modern state power and how environmental factors have contributed to this in East Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Likewise, in Part III he moves his focus to Asia, analyzing the role of changing weather systems and the politicization of natural goods such as water by the political elite which has caused conflict in Kyrgyzstan, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.  The assumption seems to be that the state needs to evolve and state security, as well as human security, needs to be reconsidered under a new framework in order to ensure political stability in the Global South and worldwide.

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