Abstract

This article makes an argument about chiasmatic knowledge production that seeks to cut across the entrenched division between the subject and object of inquiry, on the one hand, and the narrative and normative authority of the scholar, on the other, that is inherent in most writing in international relations. We revisit our own research encounter in the field of European security to explore the premises and implications of fieldwork relationships between researchers and practitioners and show their potentially transformative effects. Classifying such engagements as acts of professional transgression by both sets of parties overlooks their promise to facilitate the understanding of security practice ‘from within’ and to provide for tangible scholarly and political criticality. It is argued that, in the restricted realm of security, extensive interaction with practitioners could be a proxy for participant observation. Yet, we look further than that. We develop a concept of ‘chiasmatic crossings’ that reflects and helps theorize the ideational give-and-take and conceptual ruptures in the process of co-authorship that are indicative of distinct trajectories in European security research. This challenges the knowledge claims and static positions of both ‘problem-solving’ and ‘critical’ scholars in the field.