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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New issue of Limn on “Ebola Ecologies”

Issue 5 of Limn is now available and focuses on the 2014 Ebola outbreak. It is a great resource for anyone interested in global biosecurity emergencies and how global health norms, logics and techniques can be problematised through the case study of Ebola.

The issue includes:

  • Andrew Lakoff on “Two States of Emergency: Ebola 2014” – which questions to what exactly was the international response ‘slow and feeble.’
  • Ann H. Kelly on “Ebola, Running Ahead” – which looks at the design of clinical trials, asking the question: what does experimentation look like in the time of emergency?
  • Nicholas B. King on “Ebola, 1995/2014” – which focuses on the dialectics of confidence and paranoia in the Ebola outbreaks of 1995 and 2014.
  • And Peter Redfield on “Medical Vulnerability, or Where There Is No Kit” – which explores the role of medical humanitarian response

Contributions are made by Lyle Fearnley, Ann H. Kelly, Nicholas B. King, Guillaume Lachenal, Andrew Lakoff, Theresa MacPhail, Frédéric Le Marcis and Vinh-Kim Nguyen, Alex Nading, Joanna Radin, and Peter Redfield.

Thanks to Stephen Collier for the link to this.

Emergency Response

Derek Gregory reflects on Pete Adey and Ben Anderson’s work on governing emergencies.

geographical imaginations

I’ve been catching up on a stream of publications by Pete Adeyand Ben Anderson on emergencies, including ‘Affect and security: exercising emergency in UK “civil contingencies”‘, Society & Space 29(6) (2011) 1092-1109; ‘Anticipating emergencies: Technologies of preparedness and the matter of security’, Security dialogue 43 (2) (2012) 99-117; and ‘Governing events and life: “Emergency” in UK Civil Contingencies’, Political Geography 31 (1) (2012) 24-33.

This has been prompted by a continuing conversation with Theo Price about a series of political/artistic interventions under the rubric of COBRA RES, in which he’s invited me to take part. COBRA, as many readers will know, is

the British Government’s emergency response committee set up to respond to a national or regional crisis. Standing for Cabinet Office Briefing Room A [below], the COBRA Committee comes together in moments of perceived crisis under the chairmanship of either the Prime Minister or the…

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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 Day Britain Stopped

Whilst looking at uses of training facilities at the Fire Service College UK, which has a mock motorway amongst other things, I came across this ‘dramatic mockumentary’ (as it has been called), by the BBC. Incidentally, part of the film was shot on the mock motorway. ‘The Day Britain Stopped’ details a fictional transport disaster in the UK, which is precipitated by a rail crash followed by a trade union strike resulting in the overloading of other transport modes at an already busy time of year. Its presentation style is that of a documentary, which looks back at the events that unfolded that day, with eye-witness accounts and interviews of emergency responders and control room operators, supplemented by various methods of visualising the event, including interactive maps and video footage. Continue reading

Call For Papers – ‘Thinking with Algorithms’, Durham, 26-27 Feb 2015

There are some important links between work on emergencies and how algorithms shape, govern and control everyday practices and processes, from traffic management to financial trading. For me, there are interesting questions around the normative and procedural understandings of algorithms, specifically in settings that do the work of governing urban circulations and dealing with disruptive events. Definitely looking forward to this conference.

Progressive Geographies

SAFE_Securing_Against_Future_Events_LogoCall For Papers for Workshop

‘Thinking with Algorithms: Cognition and Computation in the Work of N. Katherine Hayles’

Gala Theatre, Durham, 26-27 February 2015

Confirmed keynote speakers:
Katherine Hayles (Duke University)
Donald Mackenzie (Edinburgh University)
Luciana Parisi (Goldsmiths, University of London)
Celia Lury (Warwick University)
David Berry (Sussex University)

Organisers: Prof. Louise Amoore and Dr Volha Piotukh, Geography Department, Durham University

The event is funded within Prof. Louise Amoore’s ESRC ‘Securing against Future Events’ project (www.securitysfutures.org) and is free to attend. Research postgraduates and early career researchers whose abstracts are accepted will have their travel and accommodation costs reimbursed to a maximum of £200. Please submit abstracts of up to 400 words to: volha.piotukh@durham.ac.uk by 20 December 2014, using ‘Thinking with Algorithms’ as your subject line.

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