New Publication – Truth and Consequences? Reconceptualizing the Politics of Exposure

October 29, 2020

SPIN is delighted to announce the next release in our special collection of critical secrecy and critical security articles to be appearing over this year in Security Dialogue.


Author: Dr. Lisa Stampnitzky (University of Sheffield)


Secrecy, especially state secrecy, has taken on increasing interest for scholars of international relations and security studies. However, even with interest in secrecy on the rise, there has been little explicit attention paid to exposure. The breaking of secrecy has generally been relegated to the role of a mere ‘switch’, whose internal workings and variations are of little consequence. This article argues that exposure is a significant process in its own right, and introduces a new conceptualization of exposure as a socially and politically constructed process, one that must be ‘thickly described’ if we are to understand how it occurs and has effects. I differentiate the process of exposure into two distinct aspects, reserving the concept of exposure to refer to releases of information, while introducing the concept of revelation to refer to a collective recognition that something has been exposed. The first part of the article explores existing understandings of secrecy and exposure to demonstrate why a new framework is needed, while the second part applies this framework to a case study of the exposure of the use of torture in the post-9/11 US ‘war on terror’.


12019 / Pixabay
Image Courtesy of Pixabay


You can listen to Lisa Stampnitzky discuss more in her podcast with SPIN’s Elspeth Van Veeren, or download the full article via the Security Dialogue website.



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