Prof. dr. Nils Büttner (State Academy of Arts Stuttgart)
The 'Golden Age' Revisited: Images and Notions of Safety from Insecure Times
The 17th century is considered the "Golden Age" of Dutch art. It was a time of cultural boom, that was fostered by the European courts and the bourgeois elites of Europe. However, it is also a period marked by political and economic transformations, but above all of wars and violent conflicts. During this time a structure of legal norms and state borders developed that are still effective today. The roots of today's Europe lie in that period. At that time, also the foundations of the still effective visualizations and pictorial imaginations of safety and political iconography were laid. The painter Peter Paul Rubens made a significant contribution to this, whom the Dutch diplomat Constantijn Huygens considered to be the most important Netherlandish painter of his time. Rubens experienced the war himself, the devastation of which also affected his estate in Ekeren. In allegorical pictures he dealt with war and peace, gave visual expression to the hopes for safety for the ceremonial entry of the new governor, but also depicted everyday life in times of war. Thus he entered into a pictorial dialogue with Dutch pictures of his time. Based on the life and work of the painter and diplomat Rubens, the paper will focus on Netherlandish art and the visual discourses which developed the still prevalent European pictorial cosmos of safety in those uncertain times.
Prof. dr. Eddo Evink (Open University)
Security, Certainty, Trust.
Historical and Contemporary Aspects of Safety
A philosophical approach of the notions of safety and security cannot work without questions like ‘what is safety?’ and ‘what is security?’. These questions cannot be answered with a simple and straightforward definition. Concepts often have a long history and can be divided in different aspects, regularly transforming in tensions or even contradictions. In my presentation I shall combine three approaches of the idea of security.
The first approach is conceptual-historical and will show how our contemporary concept ‘security’ goes back to the ancient Latin terms of securitas and certitudo. Both terms have been used in philosophical reflections for centuries, revealing many different features and degrees of safety. In this part I shall mainly focus on the tension between trust and control. The second approach is social-anthropological and will search, in an existential-phenomenological style, for general characteristics of safety and danger as inevitable part of the basic relations between humans and the world.
From there I’ll step over to the third approach, in search of a cultural and political perspective on the contemporary situation and recent developments of security in this human-world-relation. Here the philosophical method will explore a more hermeneutical or post-phenomenological style and focus on the technological facets of security in the world of today.
Prof. dr. Beatrice de Graaf (Utrecht University)
Taming the future. Historicizing security and the rise of the national security state since the Enlightenment and the Napoleonic Age
In times of uncertainty – be it terrorist attacks or the Covid-19 pandemic - the national security state is called for. The rise of such a security dispositive, as inevitable, urgent and immediate it may present itself, is rather a modern day invention. In this lecture we trace the rise of the national security state since the Enlightenment and the Napoleonic Age as the consequence of changing notions of ‘evil’ in the modern western world.
Accepting ‘evil’ as a metaphysical force, gave way to the rise of ‘taming the future’. With theological (and philosophical) conceptions of ‘evil’ retreating into the confines of the last vestiges of religiosity, new perceptions of threat, risk and insecurity were culturally mediated, and funnelled into new conceptions of institutionalized, state-led security management.
The question is, whether these modern notions of ‘taming the future’ and the post-Napoleonic developments towards national security states have indeed caused the discourse of evil to wither away, or whether this discourse has continued to smolder underneath and is still erupts and flares up in times of crisis and uncertainty? In short, to what extent has the rise of the national security state affected culturally mediated and imagined conceptions of threat, menace, and evil?
Dr. Debra Benita Shaw
Leaving Home: Safer Spaces Beyond the Neoliberal Family
The Covid-19 pandemic has seen a rise in cases of domestic abuse worldwide. In the UK, the Guardian1 reported that, by mid-April, domestic abuse killings had already doubled and, in the same week, the government acknowledged the increase and published updated guidance 2 for victims suffering as a result of the lockdown. For many, most of them women, the UK government’s instruction to ‘#StayAtHome and stay safe’ is, potentially, a death sentence.
This paper will examine the history of the home as an assumed place of refuge in the context of urban and suburban architecture which both assumes and discursively constructs the contemporary neoliberal family. I want to challenge the determination of the home as a place of safety and interrogate its connection to subject formation. I am interested in how the concept of ‘home’ invokes ideas that conflate specific understandings of corporeality with raced and gendered ideals of social structure and how these are expressed through the built environment. My question will be whether the vulnerabilities exposed by Covid-19 might open a space for imagining safer spaces beyond the neoliberal family and its association with a highly circumscribed idea of what it means to be 'home'.
1 Grierson, Jamie, 'Domestic abuse killings 'more than double' amid Covid-19 lockdown'. The Guardian, 15th April, 2020.
2 'Coronavirus (Covid-19) and domestic abuse', Gov.UK.