CFP: “Social Histories of the Security State” for the Journal of Social History

Kelley Fincher's picture
Call for Papers
October 13, 2020 to December 4, 2020
Subject Fields: 
Social History / Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Political History / Studies, World History / Studies, American History / Studies



What does the history of the security state look like at the grass-roots, the margins, and the periphery?  Since the mid-nineteenth century, states around the world have devoted incredible resources to policing their populations and their borders in order to maintain “security.” Often justified as temporary measures in times of emergency, policies and bureaucracies of state security have become permanent features of modern life. Present in dictatorships and monarchies and democracies alike, they have survived from crises of imperial legitimacy to the Cold War to the War on Terror. But while a great deal of important legal and institutional scholarship has examined the structures and dynamics of the security state, we still have much to learn about the impact of this mode of state activity on the lives and subjectivities of everyday citizens and subjects – those individuals who were repressed or harassed by the state, as well as those living in societies deeply structured by state policing, and even, perhaps, those working as the foot-soldiers or minor bureaucrats of security institutions. 


The Journal of Social History is preparing a special issue exploring “Social Histories of the Security State,” and seeks proposals from scholars interested in participating in a series of workshops before submitting an article for the issue. We are particularly interested in articles that use empirically grounded case-studies to illuminate or challenge accounts of macro-level historical change, or that deploy or interrogate theoretical categories in innovative ways. And we are very interested in transnational or comparative approaches that seek to explore the diffusion of security practices across more than one geographic location. But above all, we seek work by scholars who are keen to place their research in dialogue with work from outside their own specialization and who wish to publish in a wide-ranging issue that will help define new approaches to the history of state security.


Please send a CV and an abstract of no more than 600 words to Sam Lebovic ( by Friday, December 4. Those selected will be expected to participate in two workshops: one in February 2021, in which authors will discuss paper outlines, and one in May/June 2021, in which authors will circulate and discuss fully drafted papers. Both workshops will be held via Zoom. After the second workshop, authors will be asked to submit their articles to the Journal of Social History, at which point they will be sent out for peer-review.  



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