'Not a heap of stones': material environments and ontological security in international relations

Filip Ejdus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
565 Downloads (Pure)


Extant scholarship on ontological security in IR has focused on the relevance of social environments for state identity. In this article, I argue that material environments also provide an important source of ontological security for states. In order to assume this role material environments need to be discursively linked to state identity through either projection or introjection. Once incorporated into state identity narratives, material environments become ‘ontic spaces’: spatial extensions of the collective self that render state identities to appear more firm and continuous. However, ontic spaces are inherently unstable and require maintenance, especially during periods of crisis or transition. States bear agency in this process but they never achieve full control as identity discourses are continuously contested both domestically and internationally. I illustrate these claims by looking at the role of the General Staff HQ, destroyed by NATO in 1999, for ontological security of Serbia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-43
Number of pages21
JournalCambridge Review of International Affairs
Issue number1
Early online date19 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017


  • ontological security
  • material environment
  • ontic space
  • identity
  • Serbia


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