Expanding Emergency: The 1964 Emergency Powers Act

The 1964 Emergency Powers Act was made law on 10th June 1964. It is only two paragraphs long, and received nothing of the intense political and public attention that surrounded the introduction of the Emergency Powers Act 1920 which it amends (see previous blog post). But it does instantiate a significant change in what can count as an emergency for the purpose of declaring a state of emergency. As part of the project on the UK emergency state, we’ve been looking at the Act. Continue reading

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A Genealogy of the UK Emergency State: Legislation

After a Christmas break, I’ve spent a bit of time this week beginning to read and think about the research material from the first stage of my project on a genealogy of the UK emergency state. Continue reading

Austerity and Crisis/Emergency – Papers

Details of speakers for the workshop at Durham on Austerity and Crisis/Emergency. It’s part of the below ESRC seminar series led by Beckie Coleman, but obviously connects to questions of governing emergencies.

http://www.austerityfutures.org.uk/

Please contact Ben Anderson – ben.anderson@durham.ac.uk – if you’d like to attend.

Austerity and Crisis/Emergency
Department of Geography, Durham University
30.06.2014, 11.00-17.30

Austere States
Ben Anderson: Austerity and Crisis/Emergency
Rebecca Bramall: Bake Cakes and Save Lives: Normalising the ‘Crisis’ of the State
Paul Langley: The Apparatus of Austerity

Living with Austerity
Sarah Hall: Intimacy, Crises and Austerity: Affective and Relational Geographies of Family Life
Alison Stenning: Squeezing the Middle: Austerity, Everyday Crises and Relationships in North Tyneside
Esther Hitchen: The ‘Austerian Subject’ and the Multiple Performances of Austerity (title tbc)

Austerity Otherwise
Paul Rodgers & Andy Tennant, Austerity, Crises and the Disruptive Design Turn
Yasmina Reggad Arts of Austerity
Rebecca Coleman: Reflections: Austerity Futures

The fifth seminar in the ESRC seminar series on ‘Austerity Futures: Imagining and Materialising the Future in an ‘Age of Austerity’’ will hone in on the relation between austerity and crisis and emergency – where crisis and emergency are understood as both material and affective conditions lived unevenly and as specific ways of rendering events and situations governable. A range of recent work has mapped how austerity emerged, or was returned to and reconfigured, in the midst of a translation of a fiscal crisis into a state crisis and crisis of the state. After this translation, and as diverse austerity futures are made present, the seminar explores how austerity depends on claims about crisis or emergency and generates a sense of everyday crisis or emergency – that is particular ways of imagining and materialising the future that are part of austerity as discourse, structure of feeling or atmosphere, elite project of state restructuring and lived condition.

Specific questions will include:
How have versions of crisis and emergency been used to justify and legitimise the resource and expectation shrinkage that is austerity? Given the state restructuring associated with austerity, how are emergency and crisis connected to new ways of governing life? For example, has welfare provision become a matter of temporary emergency relief or has city governance become a matter of emergency management? In what ways are the lines between crisis/emergency and the everyday erased, reproduced, fractured or non-existent as austerity measures and austerity as atmosphere becomes part of everyday lives? What purchase do concepts that reconfigure the temporality of crisis and emergency have to understand the lived experience of austere futures? How does the sense of urgency that can infuse crisis or emergency relate to the sacrificial logic of austerity as a discourse and affective fact? What political moods or atmospheres – such as the predictable-unpredictability that some associate with precarity – are shared between austerity and at least some versions of crisis and emergency? How have crisis and emergency been used by states to govern protests and other forms of anti-austerity dissent, as well as anticipate and pre-empt post-austerity alternatives? Finally, how do counter movements to austerity draw on and reproduce ideas of crisis and emergency? And what is at stake in using and reproducing the vocabulary of crisis and emergency when critiquing austerity?

Governing failure, crisis and emergency

Interesting call for papers that might be of interest.
International Studies Association (ISA) Annual Convention
New Orleans, February 15th-18th, 2015
http://www.isanet.org/Conferences/NewOrleans2015.aspx

Panel proposal – call for papers
Convenors – Jacqueline Best (Ottawa, Canada) and Paul Langley (Durham, UK)

Governing failure, crisis and emergency

What do efforts to govern in extreme times and to prepare for future dangers tell us about global governance more generally? This panel seeks to provide some preliminary answers to this question by examining the strategies that have been recently used, or are presently in place, in order to manage failures, crises, and emergencies. Although there exists a longstanding literature in conventional International Relations (IR) and International Political Economy (IPE) on the role of crises as drivers of significant change in governmental practices, we step away from such grand causal narratives. Instead, the panel will contribute to understanding the specific, concrete techniques and mechanisms through which key actors seek to respond to and make manageable such dangerous moments. In doing so, contributors will be particularly attentive to the changing role and character of expertise and modes of knowledge in the face of pervasive uncertainty. Rather than assuming that failures, crises and emergencies are exceptional, the papers will attempt to tease out the ways in which the seemingly unusual actions taken in such moments of extremity spill over into the routine, day-to-day governance of global challenges.

Participants should submit a title and abstract (200 words) to j.best@uottawa.ca and paul.langley@durham.ac.uk by 23rd May 2014.

Austerity and Crisis/Emergency

Initial details of a workshop at Durham on ‘Austerity and Emergency/Crisis’. It’s not formally part of the network, but obviously linked. If anyone is interested in attending or contributing then please get in contact with ben.anderson@durham.ac.uk. The workshop is being organised as part of an ESRC seminar series on ‘Austere Futures’ led by Beckie Coleman at Goldsmiths;
http://www.austerityfutures.org.uk/events/

Austerity and Crisis/Emergency
Department of Geography, Durham University
30th June 2014
11.00-18.00

The fifth seminar in the ESRC seminar series on ‘Austerity Futures: Imagining and Materialising the Future in an ‘Age of Austerity’’ will hone in on the relation between austerity and crisis and emergency – where crisis and emergency are understood as both material and affective conditions lived unevenly and as specific ways of rendering events and situations governable. A range of recent work has mapped how austerity emerged, or was returned to and reconfigured, in the midst of a translation of a fiscal crisis into a state crisis and crisis of the state. After this translation, and as diverse austerity futures are made present, the seminar explores how austerity depends on claims about crisis or emergency and generates a sense of everyday crisis or emergency – that is particular ways of imagining and materialising the future that are part of austerity as discourse, structure of feeling or atmosphere, elite project of state restructuring and lived condition.
Specific questions will include: How have versions of crisis and emergency been used to justify and legitimise the resource and expectation shrinkage that is austerity? Given the state restructuring associated with austerity, how are emergency and crisis connected to new ways of governing life? For example, has welfare provision become a matter of temporary emergency relief or has city governance become a matter of emergency management? In what ways are the lines between crisis/emergency and the everyday erased, reproduced, fractured or non-existent as austerity measures and austerity as atmosphere becomes part of everyday lives? How is austerity justified through stigma and processes of stigmatisation, for example? What purchase do concepts that reconfigure the temporality of crisis and emergency have to understand the lived experience of austere futures? How does the sense of urgency that can infuse crisis or emergency relate to the sacrificial logic of austerity as a discourse and affective fact? What political moods or atmospheres – such as the predictably unpredictability that some associate with precarity – are shared between austerity and at least some versions of crisis and emergency? How have crisis and emergency been used by states to govern protests and other forms of anti-austerity dissent, as well as anticipate and pre-empt post-austerity alternatives? Finally, how do counter movements to austerity draw on and reproduce ideas of crisis and emergency? And what is at stake in using and reproducing the vocabulary of crisis and emergency when critiquing austerity?

Governing Emergencies – 1st Workshop

We’re exicted about the first Governing Emergencies workshop which is now taking shape – 23/24 September at the RGS in London. We’re going to trace some of the ways in which emergencies are governed today, around four themes: ‘Transformations in the Government of Emergency’, ‘Contemporary Logics and Techniques’, ‘Events and Non-Events’ and ‘Emergency Topologies’. Keynotes from Melinda Cooper and Janet Roitman, and other confirmed attendees/speakers include a bunch of interesting people, with more to follow …: Peter Adey, Louise Amoore, Claudia Aradau, Stephen Collier, Mick Dillon, Aurora Fredriksen, Marieke de Goede, Joe Deville, Stefan Elbe, Micheal Guggenheim, Kevin Grove, Paul Langley, Natrhaniel O’Grady, Stephanie Simon.

Further details to follow …

A Biopolitics of Emergency

Last week, I gave a lecture at the Welsh DTC (Doctoral Training Centre) theory school entitled ‘A Biopolitics of Emergency’. It was really good to catch up with friends, and meet some new postgrads doing really interesting work.

The lecture was trying to bring together two strands of my current work on emergencies. In relation to how emergencies are governed today, I said a bit about response (in distinction from preemption and other such logics), and in particular how accusations of ‘delay’ in response emerge and are themselves responded to. So I talked a little bit about the 7/7 inquiry as an occasion in which ‘delay’ emerged as a matter of concern, and then talked about response in relation to technologies and techniques of mobilisation. As well as this work on the contemporary, I’m about to start a geneaology of the contemporary government of emergency (of which i see response as critical), so in the background to the lecture was a little on how emergencies became everyday phenomena: emergency as a quality of events that could, potentially, happen anytime, anywhere. At the heart of the lecture was a simple question: how is life related to in emergency? It’s a question I don’t know the answer to yet (and I think the dominance of Agamben in relation to questions of emergencies means that the question isn’t asked). What I think, though, is that this isn’t biopower in terms of disciplinary mechanisms or regulatory mechanisms and the handy shorthands we have for summarising the relations with life that characterise forms of power don’t work for understanding what emerges as emergencies are governed: ‘taking life and letting live’ or ‘making live and letting die’.

The questions were great, even though by that stage it was past 21.00, the postgrads had been doing theory since 9.00 in the morning, and the bar had been open for some pre -lecture drinks … The questions took the discussion off in lots of different directions – the links between militarisation and response, the term accident, the urban focus of the paper, the hopefulness embedded in systems of response, ambulence driving – but what I’ve been coming back to since the lecture is how the expectation/hope that the state will respond and that there should be no delay persists, but only for some peoples and groups. How, in the midst of state restructuring, has the hope/expectation of response continued and how has and is that hope/expectation unequally distributed (as for many it never existed, or was repeatedly disappointed – think of work on differential response times and race or poverty, for example)?

Ben Anderson