Authors:Sonia Zafer-Smith (University College London)
Paper short abstract:
In this paper we consider the present and future values interacted with in the personal stockpiles of UK preppers. Prepping practices look towards imagined future transgressions and collapses outside the home. The paper analyses the temporal and moral dimensions materialized in prepper hoards.
Paper long abstract:
'Preppers' are often understood through their practices of stockpiling and hoarding of food, medicine, water, self-defence and first aid supplies - in anticipation of catastrophic futures. Yet preppers typically defy definitions of hoarding (Herring 2014), as this form of intentional excess is neatly organized and well hidden to guard against ridicule, theft and invasion by 'the unprepared'.
Oriented towards anticipated future demands and threats, yet kept in constant rotation with present need, temporal flows are in flux inside the inner layers of the 'prepared' home. Ethnographic discussions of the temporalities, affective atmospheres (Bille, Bjerregaard, & Sørensen 2015) and 'haunting' (Navaro 2012; Newell 2018) sustained in home interiors, overlap with observations of the futures anticipated and resisted in prepper hoarding. However, questions arise as to whether these practices evidence inhabitation of an 'anticipatory state' (Choi 2015), peculiar to preppers.
We draw on interviews and ethnographic observation of UK prepper skills training events, as well as prepper interactions online, including 'how-to' resources shared in blogs and YouTube videos. Analysing the advice for food and medical stockpiling circulating, we consider the temporalities and values interacted with.
As preppers negotiate between forecasts of present and future abundance, scarcity, domesticity, morality and responsibility, and as they curate, invest in and ingest their stocks, we ask to what extent these 'hoarding' and accumulation practices subvert or epitomise the ideal, autonomous neo-liberal individual. What divides normal from abnormal hoarding? What divides 'the prepper' from the 'merely prepared', and the 'prepper' from the 'unprepared'?
Hoarding, temporality, and value: regimes of accumulation and dispersal