Tibetan self-immolations as counter-securitization: interdiscursivity, identity and emergency

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This article argues that the Tibetan self-immolations constitute a form of counter-securitization to China’s securitization of the 2008 Tibetan uprising. Theoretically, it argues that securitization theory (1) is too focused on the intra-unit interaction between securitizing elites and audiences; (2) leaves the inter-unit dynamics underdeveloped and (3) fails to recognize the securitised ‘other’ as an audience. This article theorises the linkage between unit-level and inter-unit processes by exploiting three concepts: inter-discursivity, identity and emergency measures. Contrary to existing theories, it shows that even unsuccessful securitizing moves can set off counter-securitizations thanks to audience-overlap and inter-discursivity. The SinoTibetan interactions around the Tibetan self-immolations uphold these theoretical positions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-187
Number of pages21
JournalAsian Security
Issue number3
Early online date12 Oct 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Oct 2016


  • self-immolations; counter-securitization; resistance; Tibet; China


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