Governing Emergencies – workshop at Durham

Governing Emergencies

9/10 December 2010 (Starting at 2.00 on the 9th)
Two Day Workshop.
Department of Geography, Durham University

Papers include:

Peter Adey (Keele University), Ben Anderson (Durham University) and Steve Graham (Newcastle): Event and Anticipation: Governing Emergencies in UK Civil Contingencies

Louise Amoore (Durham University) and Marieke de Goede (Amsterdam University). Preemption, Anticipation, Critique.

Nick Bingham and Stephanie Lavau (Open University) In Case of Emergency; Food, Traceability and the Formalisation of the Event

Stephen Collier (The New School) ‘Preparing for a National Emergency’: Inventing the Vulnerable Homeland.

Mick Dillon (Lancaster University). The Politics of the Event

Mark Duffield. (Bristol University). Environmental Terror, Resilience and the Bunker

Derek McCormack (Oxford University) The Futures of Inflation

Ute Tellmann and Sven Optiz (Basel University) Making Futures: Emergencies in Economy and Law

Lisa Smirl (Sussex University): Playing House: Governance Through Domesticity in post-Katrina New Orleans.

Rens Van Munster (Danish Institute for International Studies). Conjectural Reasoning and the Securing of Catastrophic Futures

How do events open up some form of exception to normal social and political life? And how are events governed in advance of their occurrence, as they take place and in retrospect? In this workshop we address the theme of ‘Governing Emergencies’, exploring the contemporary deployment of ‘emergency’ in relation to terror, climate change, finance and trans-species epidemics and its similarity to or differentiation from ‘crisis’, ‘catastrophe’ and ‘disaster’. We do so amid various claims that in a world of complex interdependencies, and circulations, governing through emergency has become central to life in liberal-democratic societies (Dillon 2007; Ophir 2007; Cooper 2010; Anderson 2010; de Goede 2008; Duffield 2008; Graham 2010; Braun 2007). Whilst one aim of the workshop is to develop these claims by unpacking the different logics through which emergencies are intervened on (such as preemption or preparedness), we also want to attend to how this process works through specific practices and to address the ethical and political consequences of governing through emergency and being governed by emergency. In this respect the workshop will develop a range of work across multiple disciplines that has attended to the specific techniques, styles and practices through which futures are known in order to be rendered actionable (see Anderson 2010; Aradau & Van Munster 2007; Davies 2007; Adey 2009; Grusin 2010; Amoore 2009).

Questions to be addressed will include:
1: How have specific anticipatory logics been invented, (re)deployed, and/or intensified to govern in and through emergencies e.g. emergency planning, precaution, preparedness, resilience, preemption, adaptation, resilience? And what arts and technologies enable their speculations?
2: What catastrophic and providential relations with life are involved when governing emergencies and governing through emergencies: how is life fostered, abandoned, differentiated, destroyed, made to live, disavowed and so on?    
3: How do emergencies govern? How do emergencies open up – or threaten to open up – a state of exception to some form of already existing and valued order? What forms of legitimacy and authority follow from acting in relation in the ‘interval’ of emergency or invoking a ‘suspension’, ‘threshold’ or a ‘return’? 
4: How to conceptualise the topologies of emergency and the relations between emergency and terms such as catastrophe, crisis or disaster? How to understand emergencies in terms of exceptions, thresholds, suspensions, intervals or emergences?  
5: How are emergencies anticipated? Through what discursive and non-discursive means are future emergencies made present, e.g. through forms of imagination, performance, calculation and so on.
Papers will be 30 minutes long with a minimum of 15 minutes for questions and discussions per paper. The workshop is sponsored by the ESRC award: ‘Staging and Performing Emergencies’ (Dr Ben Anderson, Dr Peter Adey, Prof. Steve Graham).  It is free to attend, but places are limited so please contact Ben Anderson to reserve a place (

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