Some Humans Are More Human than Others: Troubling the ‘Human’ in Human Security from a Critical Feminist Perspective


Marhia, N. 2013. "Some Humans Are More Human than Others: Troubling the 'Human' in Human Security from a Critical Feminist Perspective." Security Dialogue 44 (1): 19--35. doi: 10.1177/0967010612470293.

Author: Natasha Marhia


This article develops critical feminist engagement with human security by interrogating the taken-for-granted category of the 'human' therein. Failure to reflectively deconstruct this category has contributed to human security's reproduction of dominant norms and the emptiness of its apparent radical promise. The article shows how the 'human' has historically been constructed as an exclusionary - and fundamentally gendered - category, and examines its construction in human security discourse and the capabilities approach in which the latter is rooted, as well as its discursive effects. The article troubles the model of the autonomous, rational human subject who is the bearer of capabilities, which human security inherits from the liberal humanist tradition of thought, and which obscures the matrices of power through which individuals become socially differentiated. It then considers the implication of human security in demarcating differences as 'morally relevant', including its instrumentalization in the 'war on terror'.

Keywords: gender, human security, feminist theory, capabilities, Subjectivity, critical theory

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Security, Human Security

Year: 2013

© 2023 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at