A central problem in examining multiple insecurities in Southeast Asia is at what level of analysis. Besides the more obvious threats and impediments to human security posed by conflict or natural disaster, countries confront different politics of precariousness. Varieties of intersecting circumstances often render situational day-to-day forms of precariousness difficult to recognise and interpret. Yet, state-led action tends to underplay the diverse realities of human insecurities and the specific challenges embedded in people’s daily-lived experience. In many instances, individuals and communities become aggregated within narrow framings of ‘risk’ and ‘vulnerability’ that is ultimately problematic. It creates an essentialised view of human security that understates the contextual range of precariousness faced by marginalised individuals and communities. In the process, we lose sight of localised issues of power, politics and inequality. The following paper considers the complex relationships risk, uncertainty, marginality and trust in our understanding of the politics of precariousness in Southeast Asia. Coming to terms with multiple human insecurities and their developmental, political, and ethno-cultural underpinnings is a different proposition than enacting standardised responses to predetermined problems. If we are to expand effectively the scope of ‘security’ towards addressing day-to-day inequities and lived insecurities then a more disaggregated social science mapping of interrelated conditioning forces and interests underlying them constitutes a significant step in that direction.
Paul Carnegie, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Brunei
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