chapter  10
30 Pages

The Periphery as the Core: The Third World and Security Studies

ByAmitav Acharya

The primary concern of this volume is to examine how the discourses and practices of security might have changed or be changing from the dominant understanding of the concept. What constitutes this dominant understanding is perhaps easily recognized. It is a notion of security rooted firmly within the realist tradition, or what Ken Booth has termed as the “ intellectual hegemony” of realism.1 During the Cold War era, its main reference point was the concept of national security. Although marked by considerable ambiguities and fuzziness,2 the concept of national security did provide a dominating strand of security analysis, one that tended to equate “ security with the absence of a military threat or with the protection of the nation [state] from external overthrow or attack.” 3

Many recent critics of the national security paradigm have found the intellectual lens of realism too restrictive and advocated a redefinition and broadening of security studies. As a result, a debate continues over which phenomena should be included within the purview of the new security studies agenda and which should not. While the advocates of a broader notion of security call for the inclusion, among other things, of economic, ecological, demographic (refugees and illegal migration), narcotic, or gender issues,4 others (such as Mohammed Ayoob in his contribution to this volume) warn against too much broadening, citing the danger of security becoming a

catchall concept, and urging the retention of the original state-centric and war-centric focus of security studies.5