Constructions of War and In/Security

Dr Lorraine Macmillan

This course explores key interpretations of war and security that prevail in academic discourse today. It is designed for those with an interest in but no prior knowledge of the field. While introductory, it is an intensive summer course which demands much of the student in the breadth, quantity and difficulty of readings set.

The course is divided into two parts, the first begins with a brief tour of trends in war and warfare, and the occurrence and causes of conflict. In the second part, the lectures adopt an increasingly critical standpoint on the themes visited. Rather than seeing war and insecurity as anathema to modern ‘Western’ living and endemic to a troubled developing world, this course attempts to show that both are necessary to the construction of the supposedly more pacific Western state. Dominant accounts of war and insecurity produce powerful identities of heroic and demonic states and peoples, help uphold gender and patriarchy in the private sphere, and underpin unequal relations of power between the global North and South. It is through the heuristic of war and insecurity that the regulation of society can be furthered.

The lecture series is supplemented by seminars. In keeping with the lectures, seminars have their own readings assigned. While it is always beneficial to complete lecture readings in advance, it is compulsory to have fully digested the seminar readings beforehand. (Any individual student may be asked to summarize a reading or offer an informed opinion on the structure of a text’s argument during group discussion, for example.)


  • Strachan, Hew (2007) “Clausewitz’s On War,” Grove Books.
  • Galula, David (1964/2006) “Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice,” Westport CT, Prager, pp. ix-62.
  • Foucault, Michel (2004) Society Must Be Defended,” London, Penguin, pp. 1-64 and course summary.
  • Todorov, Tzvetan (1984/1999) “The Conquest of America: The Question of the Other,” Norman, University of Carolina Press, pp. 3-123.
  • Hoganson, Kristin (1998) “Fighting for American Manhood: How Gender Politics Provoked the Spanish-American and the Philippine-American Wars,” New Haven, Yale University Press, pp. 1-42, 133-155, 200-208.
  • Duffield, Mark (2007) “Development, Security and Unending War,” Cambridge, Polity, pp. 1-64, 215-234.
  • Devji, Faisal (2008) “The Terrorist in Search of Humanity,” London, Hurst, pp. 1-96.



  • 1 Final Exam: 45%
  • 1 Final Essay: 45%
  • Participation, progress and attendance: 10%


Lecture Hours: 12 x 1 hour 15 minutes (total 15 hours)

Seminar Hours: 8 x 1 hour 15 minutes (total 10 hours)