chapter  2
22 Pages

Women’s activism in the context of the security debate: theoretical underpinnings

Given that “no other concept in international relations packs the metaphysical punch, or commands the disciplinary power, of ‘security’” (Der Derian 1995: 24-25), it is not surprising that the meaning of security and how it is practiced and studied in international relations has long been a point of contention and debate. Although scholars began questioning conventional conceptualizations of security prior to the end of the Cold War (Ullman 1983), this debate has gained significant momentum in both academic and policy circles in recent years (Brown 2003). As notions of collective security, cooperative security, and human security have emerged, many are asking important questions regarding what should be considered in the realm of international security and what or who should the primary referent of security be. In this way, security is often understood as an “essentially contested concept” characterized by “unsolvable debates about [its] meaning and application” (Buzan 1991: 7).1