Security Mapping and Colour Encoding: A Critical Cartography of Interventions

Image: Le Salon de la Mappemon Flickr CC

Event details

IR Seminar

Date & time

Monday 03 June 2019


PSC Reading Room 4.27, Hedley Bull Centre (130), Garran Road, ANU
ANU Canberra


Dr Nicolas Lemay-Hébert, ANU


Wesley Widmaier
+61 2 6125 3564

Every international intervention comes with its own security regulations, which contribute in turn to structuring the political geography of the intervention, delimiting areas of interaction between interveners and local population, and shaping the political economy of intervention. The securitisation of the everyday in interventions often takes the form of colour-coded security zones (green, yellow and red; but also blue or white), with distinct security regulations for each.

This presentation analyses the specific everyday ramifications of security mapping practices, focusing primarily on Haiti but also inquiring how these security regulations are shaping intervention practices in the Asia-Pacific region. Based on interviews conducted in Port-au-Prince in 2017 and 2018, the presentation makes three distinct arguments, underscoring the ramifications of mapping as a spatial practice of securitisation. First, by channelling expatriates to specific locations in cities, and by preventing them from occupying other zones, the securitisation practices contribute to the gentrification process in cities, contributing in their own way to the deep-rooted social segregation process. Second, it analyses how these logics of securitisation are linked to an ‘imagined geography’ of the cities, where actual security risks matter less than logics of disassociation from areas perceived as having no interest for international actors. Finally, the presentation looks at how security mapping is reappropriated and resisted by local actors, displaying a mix of resilience and self-help strategies. I hope to make a distinct contribution by linking critical cartography and international relations, especially the colour-coding and security mapping discussion with the securitisation and intervention literature.

Dr Nicolas Lemay-Hébert is a Fellow in the Department of International Relations, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, ANU. Prior to joining ANU in 2019, Nicolas worked as an invited professor at the University of Quebec at Montreal and senior lecturer at the University of Birmingham. His current research interests include statebuilding and intervention issues in Asia/Pacific and beyond. He is particularly interested in local resistance to international interventions and the political economy of interventions.

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