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Fears for the future: the incommensurability of securitisation and in/securities among southern African youth

Ansell, Nicola; Hajdu, Flora; van Blerk, Lorraine; Robson, Elsbeth


Nicola Ansell

Flora Hajdu

Lorraine van Blerk


Over the past two decades, southern Africa has experienced both exceptionally high AIDS prevalence and recurrent food shortages. International institutions have responded to these challenges by framing them as security concerns that demand urgent intervention. Young people are implicated in both crises and drawn into the securitisation discourse as agents (of risk and protection) and as (potential) victims. However, the concepts of security deployed by global institutions and translated into national policy do not reflect the ways in/security is experienced ‘on the ground’ as a subjective and embodied orientation to the future. This paper brings work on youth temporalities to bear on social and cultural geographies of in/security and securitisation. It reports on research that explored insecurities among young people in Lesotho and Malawi. It concludes that, by focusing on ‘threats’ in isolation, and seeking to protect ‘society’ as an abstract aggregate of people, global securitisation discourses fail either to engage with the complex contextualised ways in which marginalised people experience insecurity or to proffer the political responses that are needed if those felt insecurities are to be addressed. However, while securitisation is problematic, in/security is nonetheless an important element in young people’s orientation to the future.


Ansell, N., Hajdu, F., van Blerk, L., & Robson, E. (2017). Fears for the future: the incommensurability of securitisation and in/securities among southern African youth. Social & cultural geography, 20(4), 507-533.

Acceptance Date May 24, 2017
Online Publication Date Jul 14, 2017
Publication Date Jul 14, 2017
Deposit Date Jun 20, 2017
Publicly Available Date Jul 14, 2017
Journal Social & cultural geography
Print ISSN 1464-9365
Electronic ISSN 1470-1197
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 20
Issue 4
Pages 507-533
Keywords Securitisation; Youth; Temporalities; Food security; AIDS; Southern Africa
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Peer Review Statement: The publishing and review policy for this title is described in its Aims & Scope.; Aim & Scope:


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Copyright Statement
© 2017 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

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