Archiving as embodied research and security practice

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This article explores the importance of embodiment in (state) archival practice, researching counter-terrorism policy in Nigeria. In doing so, the article seeks to contribute to ongoing discussion around methodology and methods in critical security studies and other related fields in International Relations, by focusing on (researchers’) bodies as sites of knowledge production and intervention. Building on three empirical themes of fragmentation, labelling, and gatekeeping which emerged from fieldwork in Abuja, Nigeria, I demonstrate how embodiment operates in active research contexts in producing –and problematising– in/security. To do this, I draw inspiration from ideas around state archival practice, embodiment in critical security studies especially as discussed in feminist and postcolonial work, and in/security theory to scaffold my broader methodological approach. Such a focus on embodiment, the article argues, marks the researcher’s body –and research– as integral to the development of theories and findings about security. At the same time, exploring the ways in which the (researcher’s) body is (re)produced in relation to identity and subjectivity encourages greater reflexivity in our research practice and fieldwork, as we are continually reminded that our work and our words are grounded in the standpoints that we occupy. The article concludes by identifying some useful strategies from my fieldwork for grappling with the challenges and tensions that emerge from bodily encounters in (security) research process.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSecurity Dialogue
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 30 Nov 2021

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