All partners logo heb

De Goede, Simon, & Hoijtink (2014). Performing preemption

Bibliographic details:

De Goede, M., Simon, S., & Hoijtink, M. (2014). Performing preemption. Security Dialogue, 45(5), 411-422


Nearly fifteen years after 9/11, it is time to grapple with the way in which imperatives of preemption have made their way into routine security practice and bureaucratic operations. As a growing literature in security studies and political geography has argued, preparing for catastrophe, expecting the worst, and scripting disasters are central elements of contemporary, speculative security culture. One of the most-discussed findings of the 9/11 Commission Report was that US security services had insufficiently deployed their imagination to foresee and preempt the attacks. This paper introduces a special issue that offers a range of in-depth empirical studies that analyze how the imperative of routinizing the imagination plays out in practice across different policy domains. It deploys the lens of performativity in order to conceptualize and explain the materialization of preemption and its situated entanglements with pre-existing security bureaucracies. The lofty rhetoric of preparing for the worst encounters numerous obstacles, challenges and reversals in practice. As becomes clear through the notion of performativity, such obstacles and challenges do not just ‘stand in the way’ of implementation, but actively shape the materialization of preemption in different sectors.