Securing Europe, Fighting its Enemies: The making of a security culture in Europe and beyond, 1815-1914


Consolidator Grants (CoG), SH6, ERC-2013-CoG

Project acronym: SECURE

Project: Securing Europe, Fighting its Enemies: The making of a security culture in Europe and beyond, 1815-1914

Researcher (PI): Beatrice Albertha De Graaf

Host Institution (HI): Universiteit Utrecht, Netherlands

Start date: 2014-06-01, End date: 2019-05-31

Summary: «This project examines the development of a European security culture as the sum of mutually shared perceptions on “enemies of the states,” “vital interests,” and corresponding practices, between 1815 and 1914. By studying seven distinct instances of supranational security cooperation and their professional agents we will analyze how this European security culture emerged as early as 1815 as an open process of convergence and divergence, and of inclusion and exclusion. The team consists of the PI, 3 PhDs, 1 Post-Doc, and a research assistant. The postulated existence of a shared European security culture in the 19th century may seem counterintuitive. Historians and scholars of international relations generally view the first half of this age through the lenses of “balance of power” and hegemony, and the second half as shaped by bellicose nationalism rather than collective security. European security cooperation and culture is generally situated after 1918, or 1945, as a reaction to the horrors of war and motivated by economic considerations. Nevertheless, after 1815 several concrete transnational security regimes were forged, (partly) designed to deal with “enemies of the states,” such as the Commissions on the Rhine and the Danube (to fight smugglers), the European Commissions on Syria and China (to fight colonial rebels), the Anti-Piracy and Anti-Anarchism Campaigns, and others. These security regimes, dictated by the threats and interests, were highly dynamic, encompassing a growing corpus of professional agents from different branches (police, judicial, military), and evolving from military interventions into police and judicial regimes. They were midwife to a veritable European security culture. This important development has not received the attention it deserves within the framework of the history of international relations and international studies. Our hypothesis is that the development of this culture (threat/interest perceptions and practices) was dependent on four determinants: 1) the quality of the epistemic community (agents), 2) their threat/interest demarcations (subject/object), 3) the level of juridification and the use of military/police force (norms), and 4) innovations in the information, communication, and transportation technologies (technology). These determinants explain variance and change, ranging from inclusion to exclusion of groups and interests, and from juridical convergence between the European states/societies regarding the security practices in some cases to a total dissolution in other cases. This project pioneers a new multidisciplinary approach to the combined history of international relations and internal policy, aiming to “historicize security.” Using new material, we are comparing seven different security regimes where Europe engaged globally, that stretched across the political and commercial domain, affected urban and maritime environments, and reached around the world to the Ottoman Empire and China.»


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