Security in context: an anthropological study on contexts, polices and practices of security in 21st century Portugal

Principal researcher: Catarina Frois

Research group: Governance, Policies and Livelihoods


Human security | Portugal | European Union | Anthropology of policy

Funding Institution

Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT)



Start date


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Security is a major global concern and is at the forefront of current debate, crossing political, social, economic, and cultural spheres, specifically within the European Union, marking both the 8FP as the Horizon 2020 agenda. Following previous works and networking activities on surveillance and security, this project reflects upon the notion of human security in Portugal within the context of the EU. It is groundbreaking in its in-depth ethnographic approach considering that security cannot be restricted to crime and terrorism related problems but a broader perspective is needed: security policies adopted by states and shared by the result from the interaction between public and private spheres; several actors contribute in the production of policies and are mutually influenced; and the production of security policies within the EU combines internal and external factors and their significance varies according to each country's economic, social and political history. The Portuguese case, in terms of its specific features, recent past and current developments, is the starting point towards better understanding of EU policies. To emphasize interdependence both at the national and international levels (as reflected in the Europe 2020 priorities) is a main goal, questioning common understandings of security, different conceptions of state, and its role as a social agent with responsibilities over the protection of its citizens. Understanding how the equilibrium between economic power, cultural and political idiosyncrasies, and the regulation of fundamental rights is maintained is paramount. I seek to expand the notion of interdisciplinarity by adopting a holistic perspective of what is implied by security according to all interlocutors and perspectives at play.