Call for abstracts: ISA North East Virtual Conference – November 4th to 6th

July 20, 2021

We are looking for abstracts to join SPIN for a panel on Secrecy and Spatiality…


This panel sets out to explore the co-constitutive relationship between space and secrecy. Recent work on government secrecy has emphasised the ways that secrecy should be seen as a productive and dynamic set of practices and social relations (Gusterson and Galisnon, 1996; Masco, 2002; Kearns, 2016, 2017; de Goede and Wesseling, 2017; Van Veeren, 2019). It has also been explored in terms of its spatiality and materiality, described as “inextricably spatial” in its tendencies towards organising and segregating people  (Paglen, 2010; Anaïs and Walby, 2016; de Goede and Wesseling, 2017; Walters and Luscombe, 2017; Aldrich and Moran, 2018). However, the spatial politics of secrecy within security discourses is a more complex interweaving of everyday, multi-layered, and hybrid assemblages than currently conceived within the secrecy literature, which is inclined to privilege secrecy as individualised, driven by unidirectional actions and actors, and with more attention to the intentions of dominant actors.


Moreover, rather than conceiving of secrecy as narrowly concerned with the spatial practices of containment (Costas and Grey, 2014), of differentiating between inside and outside, and therefore insiders or outsiders, along the lines of walls and fences, or of concentric rings of secrecy, this panel seeks contributions that explore ways in which geospatial power is more complex and even at times fluid, in turn producing and challenging secrecy in different ways. In other words, how is secrecy produced through different forms of space?


As part of developing collective understandings of secrecy as a political force in productive, positive and generative ways, as opposed to secrecy’s more negative conceptualisation, contributors are therefore invited to reflect on the ways that space can help us rethink secrecy. For example, how might considering the right to secret space or spatial secrecy – an ethics of reclaiming secrecy and a politics of disappearing (Todd, 2016) – change our views of secrecy as practices of resistance? Secrecy is so much more fluid, less fixed and less bound by intention than common discourse accounts for, and by attuning to the multiple forms of spatial secrecy this panel aims to open up new understandings of power and knowledge within security discourses and politics more broadly.


In particular, we are looking for papers that engage with the following areas of investigation that include, but are not limited to:

  • explorations of the spatial, temporal, and imaginary relations of secrecy and forgetting;
  • work focused on representations and materialities of the secret in order to understand how they form part of (spatialising) security discourses;
  • arguments for secrecy as resistance and dissent, in addition to secrecy as control and domination, that use different spatialities;
  • investigations into the interconnections between personal and intimate forms of secrecy and the national, state, international and/or global in security discourses through the lens of spatialities.

Deadline: 24th July 2021


Please submit your abstracts, and address any question you might have, to Clare Stevens at




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