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02.07.24
18:15 – 19:45 Uhr

Climate Changed Futures:  On Anticipatory Action in the Climate Emergency

| Prof. Ben Anderson (Durham University) |

How is climate change governed as a problem of the future? And how does climate change related anticipatory action differ from pre-emption, precaution and other ways in which terrorism, trans-species epidemics, and other events and situations have been governed over the past twenty years?

The lecture asks how climate change is governed as a problem of the future by focusing on the widespread use of the term ‘emergency’ to apprehend the event. Unlike crisis or disaster, ‘emergency’ is a form of anticipation that opens up an ‘interval’ of action in the present – the promise is that correct action can make a difference. Emergency is a term of hope, albeit always a desperate hope inseparable from the affect of urgency. In an emergency, time for action is always running out. Whilst attentive to the uses of ‘climate emergency’ as technique by activists and its existence as part of the atmospheres of the crisis present, I argue that the normalisation of ‘climate emergency’ has underpinned a shift in the dominant form of climate change related anticipatory action. Climate change is rendered perceivable and governable as a proliferating set of possible ‘impacts’ or ‘effects’ through the logics, practices and affects derived from the fields of emergency planning. I speculate on how this change is part of broader shifts in how western societies relate to the future in the present impasse, and explore its implications for the politics of climate (in)action.

Ben Anderson is a Professor in the Department of Geography at Durham University, specializing in affect and emotion, non-representational theories, and anticipatory logics/techniques. His research explores the governance of life amidst emergencies, with a recent focus on examining how claims of emergency are utilized by progressive groups to highlight ongoing inequalities and injustices.

02.07.2024, 6 p.m. (ct) , PEG 1.G107