ICS Seminar Series - Matthew Kearnes

Date: Thursday, 7 May 2020
Time: 11.30am–1pm
Venue: this seminar will be held online via Zoom. Please RSVP by 12:00pm, 6 May, to e.blight@westernsydney.edu.au to receive the Zoom ID and password.

Emergency logics and the temporalities of crisis

Presenters: Ben Anderson, Kevin Grove, Lauren Rickards, Matthew Kearnes


How lives are governed through emergency is a critical issue for our time. In this brief presentation we draw on our collective work on the logics and temporalities of emergency across a range of domains. We reflect on the ways in which contemporary emergencies are characterised by forms of attritional lethality where the lines of causation are complex, they blur with other ordinary hurts and sufferings, and they are lived with in all kinds of ways. In this context, the challenge, then, is to explore where processes of harm are folded into and become inseparable from the cross-cutting processes that sustain and enable life to go on and to determine how to best describe and witness phenomena. We argue it is critical to listen to and hear the different forms that emergency claims or statements can take and follow how those claims or statements are encountered by publics and states and other governing assemblages, made sense of, and translate into forms of in/ non-action. This task involves cultivating a ‘response-ability’ to how people live in and foster liveable lives through enervating conditions.


Ben Anderson is Professor of Human Geography in the Department of Geography, Durham University, UK. His current research explores the geographies and politics of affect (in particular in relation to boredom and hope in the contemporary political moment), and how events and life are governed through emergencies

Kevin Grove is an Associate Professor of Geography in the Department of Global and Sociocultural Studies, Florida International University, USA. His research focuses on disaster resilience, urban planning and environmental restoration initiatives throughout the Caribbean and North America to examine how uncertain futures are known, governed and contested.

Lauren Rickards is an Associate Professor in the Centre for Urban Research at RMIT University, Melbourne, where she coleads the Climate Change Transformations research program. Lauren also coleads the Nature, Risk and Resilience study group of the Institute of Australian Geographers.

Matthew Kearnes is a Professor in the School of Humanities and Languages, University of New South Wales. His research is situated between the fields of Science and Technology Studies (STS) & human geography. His current work is focused on the social and political dimensions of technological and environmental change.