The Environmental Politics group is pleased to welcome Dr Kevin Grove of the Geography and Earth Sciences Institute, Aberystwyth University. Kevin will be speaking on the effects of global disaster management and climate change adaptation in Jamaica (see abstract below).
Title: ‘Adaptation Machines and the Politics of Catastrophe in Jamaica’
Date: Friday the 7th of December, 1-2 in the Main Hall (Interpol building).
Abstract: The ethical imperative to save humanity from the impending catastrophe of climate change has, with few exceptions, pre-empted critical reflection on the cultural and political dimensions of resilience-building initiatives. As a result, progressive-minded scholars and practitioners have uncritically adopted the language and techniques of population control in community-based disaster management. Indeed, the 2005 Hyogo Framework has made building “cultures of safety” characterized by populations that proactively mitigate their disaster risks one of its five priorities for action.
Against this apolitical instrumentalism, I draw on fieldwork conducted with Jamaica’s national disaster management agency to show how community-based resilience programs govern populations through catastrophic futures. Resilience operates through what I call, after Deleuze and Guattari, “adaptation machines”, diffuse and decentralized assemblages that target, modify, and appropriate marginalized populations’ inherent adaptability in order to sustain neoliberal development. Adaptation machines operate through affective economies of fear and hope to align contextually-specific experiences of social and environmental insecurity with global disaster management knowledge and create resilient subjects who contribute their knowledge and aptitudes to a culture of safety.
On this basis, I argue that the empowerment promised by participatory resilience approaches depends on a prior disempowerment that depoliticizes adaptive capacity and displaces the source of insecurity in an emergent world. Adaptation machines transform vulnerability from a condition created by uneven socio-ecological relations that can be changed through political action, into a matter of surviving a volatile environment through proper adaptations.