Ontological Security Anchored in Death & the Afterlife: Shared Frameworks of Meaning and the Ramifications for Senses of Peace and Security.

Bronwyn  Winch3

3RMIT, Melbourne, Australia

While ‘security studies’ has traditionally been located within mainstream International Relations, a broadening of disciplinary approaches over the past thirty years has led to increasing recognition of localised expressions, understandings and politics of security. As part of this, priority has been given to vernaculars of security which emphasise the day-to-day lived experiences, realities and routines of individuals and communities. Drawing from the work of Anthony Giddens and applied in the context of contemporary Timor-Leste, this paper focuses on a definition of ontological security which is anchored in the existence of an afterlife and continuing ‘life’ of the dead. While the idea of security anchored in death may appear paradoxical, in this paper practices of habitual (and ritual) communication and exchange between the living and dead are taken to be an important shared framework in the reproduction of meaning-making. These practices not only contribute to a collective existential security framed by ideas of historical lineage but are also utilised to directly influence physical security and material environments and mitigate future risk.


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