Governing Emergencies Issue of Theory Culture & Society

We’re pleased to announce that the new special issue of Theory Culture & Society on Governing Emergencies is now available. It draws together critical work on emergency, exploring the politics and techniques of governing emergencies and the experiences of living through and with emergency, focusing on a range of different types of emergency. The special issue has been edited by Peter Adey (Royal Holloway), Ben Anderson (Durham University) and Stephen Graham (Newcastle University).

The issue includes:

Introduction: Governing Emergencies: Beyond Exceptionality by Peter Adey, Ben Anderson, and Stephen Graham

Vital Systems Security: Reflexive Biopolitics and the Government of Emergency by Stephen Collier and Andrew Lakoff

The Theology of Emergency: Welfare Reform, US Foreign Aid and the Faith-Based Initiative by Melinda Cooper

Cybersecurity, Bureaucratic Vitalism and European Emergency by Stephanie Simon and Marieke de Goede

Future Emergencies: Temporal Politics in Law and Economy by Sven Opitz and Ute Tellmann

Governing Inflation: Price and Atmospheres of Emergency by Derek McCormack

‘Crowded Places Are Everywhere We Go’: Crowds, Emergency, Politics by Claudia Aradau

You can access the special issue on the Theory Culture & Society website.

Après le deluge: the UK winter storms of 2013–14

Klaus Dodds on a recent themed issue in The Geographical Journal on how we make sense of extreme flood events.

Geography Directions

By Klaus Dodds, Royal Holloway University of London

Spurn Head on the Humber being broken by the December 2013 Storm Surge Photo Credit: Environment Agency (reproduced with permission) Spurn Head on the Humber being broken by the December 2013 Storm Surge Photo Credit: Environment Agency (reproduced with permission)

The UK winter floods of 2013-14 were unquestionably severe caused by winter storms that brought with them record levels of rainfall and long standing flooding to southern England, most notably the Somerset Levels. Other parts of the UK were also affected, coastal towns in Wales were battered by stormy weather and parts of the Scotland also recorded some of the highest levels of rainfall ever recorded. Political leaders of all the main parties were swift to visit affected areas, and the government organization responsible for flood management the Environment Agency and its embattled chief Lord Smith endured a barrage of criticism for late and or inadequate flood preparation, warnings and responsiveness. For weeks, stories and images of the flood and its impact…

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The war on Ebola

A great post by Derek Gregory on the metaphorical significance of ‘going to war’ on Ebola.

geographical imaginations

ECONOMIST The war on Ebola

We’ve been here before – ‘wars’ on this and ‘wars’ on that.  It’s strange how reluctant states are to admit that their use of military violence (especially when it doesn’t involve ‘boots on the ground‘) isn’t really war at all – ‘overseas contingency operations’ is what the Pentagon once preferred, but I’ve lost count of how many linguistic somersaults they’ve performed since then to camouflage their campaigns – and yet how eager they are to declare everything else a war.

These tricks are double-edged.  While advanced militaries and their paymasters go to extraordinary linguistic lengths to mask the effects of their work, medical scientists have been busily appropriating the metaphorical terrain from which modern armies are in embarrassed retreat.

Yet all metaphors take us somewhere before they break down, and the ‘war on Ebola’ takes us more or less directly to the militarisation of the global response…

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Free access to Taylor and Francis articles #SocialMediaDay

Until the 31st August 2014, Taylor and Francis Online is offering free access to a number of journal articles on the theme of social media. We’ve selected a few that have some interesting interconnections with work on emergency.

1. Leveraging Twitter to detect event names associated with a place

Journal of Spatial Science
C.K. Chan, M. Vasardani & S. Winter

2. The impact of using social media data in crime rate calculations: shifting hot spots and changing spatial patterns

Cartography and Geographic Information Science
Nick Malleson & Martin A. Andresen

3. Where in the World Are You? Geolocation and Language Identification in Twitter

The Professional Geographer
Mark Graham, Scott A. Hale & Devin Gaffney

4. Responding in Real Time: Creating a Social Media Crisis Simulator for the Classroom

Communication Teacher
Betsy Anderson, Rebecca Swenson & John Kinsella

5. Figuring Out #Fukushima: An Initial Look at Functions and Content of US Twitter Commentary About Nuclear Risk

Environmental Communication
Andrew Binder

The full list of journals available for #SocialMediaDay can be found on Taylor and Francis Online.

The Revolution in Military Affairs: A Partial Timeline (+links)

Deterritorial Investigations

1-DsQVZN-wu89sU1xgHjIQ6w“A Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) is a major change in the nature of warfare brought about by the innovative application of new technologies which, combined with dramatic changes in military doctrine and operational and organisational concepts, fundamentally alters the character and conduct of military operations.” – Andrew Marshall

“The RMA depends not only on technological developments, such as computer and information systems, but also on the new forms of labor – mobile, flexible, immaterial forms of social labor… In these respects RMA is an anticipation and an extrapolation of the recent transformations of social labor, casting the economic figures into the field of battle.” – Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Multitude



  • Andrew Marshall graduates with a degree in economics at the University of Chicago.

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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 The workshop is being organised as part of an ESRC seminar series on ‘Austere Futures’ led by Beckie Coleman at Goldsmiths;

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

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?