Research Themes – University of Copenhagen

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Research Themes

Research at CAST can be divided into seven main areas which in different ways address the current social and bureaucratic practices of security; how these shape and are shaped by past international security orders, power politics and processes of globalization. These are:

  1. Societal Security, Identity and Culture 
  2. Research Group on Arctic Politics 
  3. Risk studies   
  4. Securitization theory and beyond   
  5. Knowledge Production      
  6. Visual Security and Communication    
  7. From Orders to Policy: International Security Dynamics


 1. Societal Security, Identity and Culture

CAST research on societal security focuses on constructions of security identities through discourse and practice as they take place on two levels: The basic constitution of societies and the way these societies are continuously re-constituted in attempts to secure themselves from threats pointed out to them. Empirically this research covers counter-radicalization policies, the role of the Muslim Other in security organizations, the role of private companies in national security policies, processes of decolonization and nationalist ideology, processes of integration and disintegration of political communities and collective identities, as well as the constitution of national identity cultures in foreign policies and national intelligence.

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2. Research Group on Arctic Politics

CAST facilitates the research group on Arctic Politics in the Department at Political Science, UCPH. The group serves as a platform to discuss current and future Arctic research projects and organizes  a series of seminars on Arctic Politics. The group consist of researchers applying a variety of approaches and relating to a series of sub-disciplines. Members carry out studies on Arctic politics including, i.a., Asian interests in the Arctic; concepts of sustainability in the Arctic; Danish defense policy in the Arctic; the postcolonial Danish/Greenlandic relation; Greenlandic nation building, human resources and minerals extraction. For participants, publications and projects click here


3. Risk Studies

With new globalized threats on the political agenda, the need for a closer engagement between risk and security studies has become apparent. Research at CAST explores the interface between security and risk management by zooming in on the practices of global economic markets, risk communication, intelligence, crime control, counterterrorism and climate change. Related to this, it explores how the current developments in the management of security (resilience, precaution and preparedness) effect and rewrite the authority relation between civil society and state.

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4. Securitization theory and beyond

The center engages in the further development of the theory of securitization (also known as part of the 'Copenhagen School'), the explanatory status of the theory and the related issues of ethics and de-securitization. The work on de-securitization also links to the work done on conflict resolution at the Centre for Resolution of International Conflicts. A second strand within CAST aims to expand the securitization debate and address the issue of political and social change. By developing the concept of ‘translations of security’, they address how the meetings between different fields of practice continually challenge, modify or maintain social understandings of security threats, risks and dangers. These projects expose the many different forms of security, securitization being a particular one.

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5. Knowledge Production

CAST researchers investigate how knowledge and expertise about security, risk and threats are produced and what consequences different understandings and forms of assimilations have for political authority and democracy. The projects investigate the production of knowledge within security organizations such as intelligence agencies, emergency management agencies and the military, as well as within non-security organizations such as universities and think tanks.

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6. Visual Security and Communication

The research on visual security and communication aims to develop analytical strategies that facilitate a better understanding of the role of new media and forms of visual communication in the construction of security identity. It asks what theoretical, methodological and empirical questions arise when images make their way into security politics; how security problems are represented through visual means; and what communication strategies states, NGO’s, civil groups and private companies adopt in response to a range of security issues.

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7. From Orders to Policy: International Security Dynamics

This research area focuses on regional and global risk and security dynamics and how these dynamics are translated into policy. The starting point is political orders and their material and ideational foundations. From this point of departure we analyze the conditions for policy-making as well as the actual choices made by policy makers. This allows us to engage with debates on international economic and security orders and relate to classical debates on realism and the political and ethical stakes in past and present foreign policy strategies as well as international political economy. Thematically, the research covers traditional security issues on war and peace as well as global markets, terrorism, nuclear proliferation and climate change.

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