Disasters and Politics: Sociological Review Monograph

Disasters and Politics edited by Manuel Tironi, Israel Rodríguez-Giralt and Michel Guggenheim, is out now and available here. The book is part of the prestigious Sociological Review Monograph series, which is simultaneously published in the journal – and available here.

The book launched on April 4th at the Centre for Collective Collaboration, which featured commentary from Peter Adey (Geography, Royal Holloway), Noortje Marres (Sociology, Goldsmiths) and  Mark Pelling (Geography, Kings College London).

The book also features, in a section of the book on the topic of ‘Preparedness’, a chapter by the Organizing Disaster team. The paper is titled ‘Concrete governmentality: shelters and the transformations of preparedness’, the abstract for which is below.

Other contributors included Nigel Clark, Israel Rodríguez-Giralt, Francisco Tirado, Manuel Tironi, Ignacio Farías, Katrina Petersen, Lucy Easthope and Maggie Mort, Ryan Ellis, Gisa Weszkalnys and Mike Michael

Concrete governmentality: shelters and the transformations of preparedness
Joe Deville, Michael Guggenheim and Zuzana Hrdličková

This article analyzes how shelters act as a form of concrete governmentality. Shelters, like other forms of preparedness, are political acts in the absence of a disaster. They are materializations and visualizations of risk calculations. Shelters as a type of concrete governmentality pose the question of how to build something that lasts and resists, and remains relevant both when the object that is being resisted keeps changing and when the very act of building intervenes so publicly in the life of the restless surrounding population. Comparing shelters in India, Switzerland and the UK, we highlight three transformations of preparedness that shelters trigger. First we analyse how shelters compose preparedness by changing the relationship between the state and its citizens. Rather than simply limiting risk or introducing ‘safety’, the building of shelters poses questions about who needs protection and why and, as we will show, this can generate controversy. Second, we analyse how shelters decompose preparedness by falling out of use. Third, we focus on struggles to recompose preparedness: Changing ideas about disasters thus lead to shelters being suddenly out of place, or needing to adapt.