Conference Urban security assemblages: Protection beyond the state and beyond the human

How do governance and citizenship change, as non-state security actors take on an increasingly important role in policing urban spaces and populations? And how do non-human entities, from security dogs to digital technologies, mediate urban security provision? This conference marks the end of Rivke Jaffe’s five-year research project on public-private security assemblages.

Bringing together key scholars working on cities and security, the conference seeks to open up new perspectives on the politics of urban protection. In addition to considering the consequences of security privatization and pluralization, the conference moves to develop more-than-human geographies of protection, studying the political role of various technologies, material objects, and spiritual entities.

The research project

Jaffe’s research team has been focusing on the role of public and private actors in urban security provision, and the implications this has for how different groups enact and experience citizenship. It examines how urban spaces and populations are governed, and how political subjectivities shift, as a result of changing forms of security provision. In addition to focusing on the role of non-state security providers such as vigilantes and private security companies, the project has explored how non-human entities mediate these political relations of protection and endangerment. This has involved attending to material and digital technologies, but also to spiritual entities, as important sources of security and insecurity.


The conference will be organized around the following five themes: vigilantism, commodification, materiality, digitality and spirituality. Keynotes will be presented by Abdoumaliq Simone (University of Sheffield) and Diane Davis (Harvard). Other speakers include Oren Yiftachel (Ben-Gurion University), Hiba Bou Akar (Columbia), Laurent Fourchard (Sciences Po), Atreyee Sen (University of Copenhagen) and Brian Jordan Jefferson (University of Illinois). A preliminary program is now available.

Date and location

The conference will take place on Feb. 6-8, 2019, at the UvA University Library and the Tolhuistuin in Amsterdam. Attendance is free of any charge, but registration is required. To register, please fill in this form.

This research project is funded by the European Research Council (ERC) and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).


> Download the preliminary program 

> Register for the conference