Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

The Freedom of Security: Governing Canada in the Age of Counter-Terrorism

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

The Freedom of Security: Governing Canada in the Age of Counter-Terrorism

Article excerpt

Colleen Bell, The Freedom of Security: Governing Canada in the Age of Counter-Terrorism (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2011), 195 pp. Cased. $85. ISBN 978-0-7748-1825-4. Paper. $32.95. ISBN 978-0-7748-1826-1.

This review was completed in October 2012 as the CBC announced Omar Khadr's return to Canada from his detention in Guantanamo Bay. Themes that surround Khadr's legal status, citizenship and detainment echo Dr Bell's cogent examination of security as a practice, described as part of, rather than a departure from, liberal forms of governance. This understanding moves beyond the dichotomy of security and freedom to posit security as 'integral to liberal strategies of governing through freedom' and to examine 'how the logics and practices of security are embedded within and harness politics of freedom'. The author studies '[i]nstitutional discourses' (pp. 7, 19) around 'policy moments' in the context of four themes in Canada's 'war on terror', drawing on government and activist sources..

Bell's theoretical discussion employs Foucault's ideas of governmentality and biopolitics in conjunction with Giorgio Agamben's notions of sovereignty and state of exception. If the author is particularly adroit in her use of Foucault, her explanation of Agamben's theory and how it directly connects to her larger argument is less lucid. The first chapter argues that post-9/11 security measures are not simply to 'deny civil liberties in light of national security, [but also] enlist community and civilian agency in the management of threats in concrete ways' (p. 19). Seen this way, the regulation of life becomes more than surveillance through new tools like biometrics but hinges on the promotion of agency in line with 'Canadian values' and governance 'through the unsaid' (p. …

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