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Thinking security through the event: materiality, politics and publicity in the Litvinenko affair

Ingram, A; (2019) Thinking security through the event: materiality, politics and publicity in the Litvinenko affair. Security Dialogue , 50 (2) pp. 165-180. 10.1177/0967010618824482. Green open access

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Abstract

While the turn towards materiality over the course of the last decade has enriched studies of security in a variety of ways, the security field continues to pose challenges for materially oriented thinking. This article argues that while recent materially oriented work on security has been concerned with events, working through the question of the event as a central analytical strategy is a promising way of addressing such challenges and developing broader insights. The article develops this argument by working through a particular event, the killing of the former Russian security agent Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006 by means of the radioactive element polonium 210. Approaching the event via the archive and report of the public inquiry that subsequently took place into it, and reflecting further on the utility of Bruno Latour’s idea of dingpolitik for materially oriented work on security, the article explores transformations of materiality, politics and publicity, and draws out how polonium 210 came to figure in the killing and the inquiry as actant, trace and evidence. In conclusion, the article reflects on the conceptual value of working through events and the methodological issues raised in the analysis.

Type: Article
Title: Thinking security through the event: materiality, politics and publicity in the Litvinenko affair
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/0967010618824482
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1177/0967010618824482
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Dingpolitik, Latour, polonium, public inquiries, Russia
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Geography
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10067469
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