Till F. Paasche and James Derrick Sidaway, "Transecting Securityscapes: Dispatches from Cambodia, Iraq, and Mozambique" (U Georgia Press, 2021)


In this interview, I speak with Till F. Paasche and James D. Sidaway about their new book, Transecting Securityscapes: Dispatches from Cambodia, Iraq, and Mozambique (University of Georgia Press, 2021). In addition to the book's methodological and theoretical contributions, we also discussed the extensive field research and important personal experiences informing this project.

This is an innovative book on the everyday life of security, told via an examination of three sites: Cambodia, the Kurdistan region of Iraq, and Mozambique. The authors' study of how security is enacted differently in these three sites, taking account of the rich layers of context and culture, enables comparative reflections on diversity and commonality in "securityscapes."

The book puts into practice a diverse and contextual approach to security that contrasts with the aerial, big-picture view taken by many geopolitics scholars. In applying this grounded approach, Paasche and Sidaway develop a method of urban and territorial transects, combined with other methods and modes of encounter. The book draws on a broad range of traditions, but it speaks mostly to political geography, urban studies, and international relations research on geopolitics, stressing the need for ethnographic, embodied, affective, and place-based approaches to conflict. The result is a sustained theoretical critique of abstract research on geopolitical conflict and security-mainstream as well as academic-that pretends to be able to know and analyze conflict "from above."

Please note: the second half of this podcast includes discussion of combat, death and loss.

Correction: In the interview, James D. Sidaway notes that Till's doctoral research was in Johannesburg. In fact, James and Till arranged to meet at Johannesburg's O.R. Tambo Airport on 27 July 2009, for the short flight to Maputo. Till's fieldwork was in Cape Town, co-advised by James and Richard Yarwood.

Till F. Paasche is Associate Professor of political geography at Soran University.

James D. Sidaway is Professor of political geography at the National University of Singapore.

Catriona Gold is a PhD candidate in Geography at University College London, researching security, subjectivity and mobility in the 20-21st century United States. Her current work concerns the US Passport Office; she has previously published on US Africa Command and the 2013-16 Ebola epidemic. She can be reached by email or on Twitter.

Your Host

Catriona Gold

Catriona Gold is a PhD candidate in Geography at University College London. She is currently researching the US Passport Office's role in governing Cold War travel, and broadly interested in questions of security, surveillance and mobility.

View Profile