When do states (de)securitise minority identities? Conflict and Change in Turkey and Northern Ireland

  • Serhun Al
  • Douglas Byrd


By a comparative case analysis of the Northern Ireland conflict and the Kurdish conflict in Turkey, this article aims to make a contribution to the (de)securitisation literature. It raises two interrelated questions. First, under what conditions are states more likely to desecuritise minority identities? Second, what does desecuritisation entail? The conventional wisdom about desecuritisation, especially among the Copenhagen School scholars, is that it is the shift from emergency politics to normal politics within which the security speech act becomes absent. In turn, desecuritisation is assumed to be an agency-driven process. This article underlines some of the problems and insufficiencies of this approach and pushes forward an interpretation based on structure-driven processes along with agency-driven acts in the desecuritisation of minority identities. While we unpack the concept of desecuritisation further, as opposed to taking it at its face value (i.e. the absence of the security speech act), we place the process of desecuritisation into a specific historical context. We argue that states are more likely to desecuritise minority identities in three interrelated processes: first, when status-quo security discourses lose their legitimacy; second, when there is an elite change; and third, when there is an external pressure.


desecuritisation Turkey Kurds Northern Ireland 


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Izmir University of EconomicsIzmirTurkey
  2. 2.Portland Community CollegePortlandUSA

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