“Security has an eye on the future,” the British philosopher Jeremy Bentham once wrote.
It is about predicting the uncertain, containing the ambiguous, and taming threats. But security also looks back to the past. It gains traction and meaning through historical contingencies: it combines the ‘space of experiences’ with the ‘horizon of expectations’ regarding fears, threats and interests. History allows us to grasp security in its totality—how it has been perceived, how it has functioned, and to what end.
The Security History Network (SHN) brings together scholars and students that consider security through this historical lens. The SHN is an academic platform for research dissemination, teaching and public outreach activities in the field of security history from the nineteenth century onward.
The network originates from a European Research Council-funded project which brought together its convenors De Graaf, Ozavci and De Lange in 2015. Since then, the three have organized several workshops and international conferences and edited volumes and special issues on aspects of security history with the participation of finest scholars.
The SHN builds upon this firm basis and strives to bring together historians, social scientists and security analysts from around the world. It aspires to provide a meeting place with its seminar series, international conferences, blog posts, podcasts, and interviews. Moreover, it aims to play an enabling role for students of security history for research and teaching opportunities at various capacities.
The network considers the nineteenth century as foundational for present-day security logics. A new world order came into being then, premised on uneven power relations and west-centric outlooks. Security was key to this development, both as a logic of rule and legitimizing narrative. The aftereffects last up until today and are manifold.
The SHN accentuates the links of the nineteenth-century security history with other historical periods, past and present. While security history is the main focus, it also aims to establish connections across disciplines from area studies to social psychology, and from medicine to digital humanities.