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Accepted Paper:

Resilient against what? Thinking about the management of a potential pandemic future in London  
Meike Wolf (Goethe University Frankfurt)

Paper short abstract:

Cities such as London are currently portrayed as being specifically prone to outbreak events. By drawing upon the example of pandemic influenza preparedness in London, this papers looks at how resilience is enacted as a set of technologies and practices that aim to regulate urban environments.

Paper long abstract:

This paper focuses on the management of a potential crisis: that of an influenza pandemic. Pandemics are currently represented as a threat to health, and to economic and political wellbeing on a global scale. They seem to be not only of biomedical importance, but pandemic fears are drawn into the sociotechnical domains of resilience planning, surveillance systems, and into globalised expert networks. Within these rationales, a state of risk is made the rule rather than the exception. Countries like the UK have adopted the need to prepare for potential outbreak events by designing preparedness and resilience planning systems.

With urban environments being portrayed as specifically prone to outbreak events, they are a good starting point to reflect upon resilience as an apparatus of security. London, in particular, has accepted its assumed vulnerability as mobility hub, business location, and tourist destination by implementing a thorough planning framework in which a range of things, people, technologies, and information are assembled to make the city resilient. This paper looks at what Adey and Anderson call the life of an apparatus of security (2012: 99), so instead of arguing about the need for resilience, it focuses on how to understand the sociomaterial contingencies of resilience management.

The paper draws upon ethnographic fieldwork among health professionals, resilience planners, and local authorities in London and Frankfurt to answer the following questions: how is resilience enacted as a set of technologies and practices that aim to regulate urban environments? And what are its goals and underlying rationales?

Panel P037
Resilience, disaster, and anthropological knowledge [DICAN]
  Session 1