ISA-NE Secrecy panel

November 17, 2021

SPIN Members presented their papers at the ISA North East Virtual Conference for a panel on Secrecy and Spatiality.


Details of Panellists

‘Live, Die, Repeat’: Understanding Global Transformations through new conceptions of space, time, secrecy and knowledge (un)making
Author: Elspeth Van Veeren (University of Bristol)
Author: Clare Stevens (University of Portsmouth)


Spy radio: A natural history of secret soundscapes
Author: Oliver Kearns (University of Bristol)


The Power of Secrecy in Gaza’s Tunnels
Author: Timothy Duroux (University of Bristol)


Manufacturing dis‐content – sculpture as a counter propaganda
Author: Julika Gittner (University of Reading)


Drawing a line in the sand: Revelation public secrecy and forgetting in British public inquiries on war in Iraq.
Author: Owen D. Thomas (University of Exeter)
Author: Margot Tudor (Politics, University of Exeter)
Author: Catriona Pennell (University of Exeter)


Abstract and Keywords

At a time of global transformations symbolised in conspiracy cultures, misinformation, calls for transparency and ‘open societies’, ‘history wars,’ and new technological developments in surveillance, this panel brought new insights into how current and historical events are animated by dynamics of secrecy, ignorance and knowledge unmaking. Recent work on secrecy has emphasised the ways that it is a productive and dynamic set of practices and social relations (Gusterson and Galison, 1996; Masco, 2002; Van Veeren, 2019), and described as “inextricably spatial” in its tendencies towards organising and segregating people, spatiality and materiality (Paglen, 2010; Anaïs and Walby, 2016). However, the spatial politics of secrecy within security discourses is a more complex interweaving of everyday and hybrid assemblages than currently conceived within the secrecy literature, which is inclined to privilege secrecy as individualised, intentional and elite-focused. The panel reflected on the ways that space-time can help us rethink secrecy. 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, the panel attuned to the multiple forms of spatial secrecy to explore new understandings of power and knowledge within security discourses and politics more broadly.




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