ABSTRACTS, SLAGMARK #73
Alf Hornborg: Revelations of resilience - From the ideological disarmament of disaster to the revolutionary implications of (p)anarchy
The currently burgeoning discussions on ‘socio-ecological resilience’ tend to mask the power relations, contradictions of interest, and inequalities that to a large extent determine how humans utilize the surface of the Earth. Resilience theory has the potential to radically confront such power structures by identifying some of the basic assumptions of economics as the very source of vulnerability, mismanagement, and crises. It has every reason to critically scrutinise the operation of general-purpose money, the global market, and neoliberal ideology. The ultimate implications of resilience theory, in other words, are vastly more radical and subversive than its current proponents imagine. A strategy to enhance socio-ecological resilience would be to distinguish local from global economic scales by employing separate currencies for the two levels. Proponents of resilience theory are advised to engage more respectfully with social science, particularly its understandings of culture and power. Upon doing so, they would find the idea of a bi-centric economy, as sketched in this article, entirely consistent with the fundamental insights of resilience theory.
Keywords: resilience; power; culture; economic anthropology; neoliberal ideology; local money
Anders Dræby Sørensen: The overcoming of vulnerability and the fascination of strength - The history of the psychological and psychotherapeutic understanding of resilience
The first part of the article demonstrates how the concept of mental resilience has developed from the 1970s to the 2010s, spreading from the field of developmental psychopathology to a wide range of psychological and psychotherapeutic disciplines. Today, there are many varied definitions of mental resilience, ranging from a relation to the concept of mental vulnerability to a related concept of mental strength. The second part of the article demonstrates how the current popularisation of the idea of individual resilience is associated with a social and cultural problematisation of the vulnerable life as well as with a psychopolitical and governmental focus on enhancing the mental capacity of citizens.
Keywords: mental resilience; psychology; psychotherapy; culture of vulnerability; psychopolitics of strength
Mikkel Fugl Eskjær: Resilience and global climate change - Lessons from Bangladesh
Resilience has become a key concept in the global climate change discourse, not least in relation to climate change adaptation in the Global South. Taking Bangladesh as an example, this paper explores the role and function of resilience in one of the most climate vulnerable nations. The aim is to examine and critically discuss the popularity of resilience in recent climate change policy. The paper looks into the following aspects of climate change resilience: (i) the relation between resilience and the concepts of mitigation/adaptation; (ii) resilience as a re-description of existing socio-ecological means of adaptation; (iii) resilience as an example of the integration of climate change adaptation and development; (iv) resilience as a strategic resource in obtaining international climate change funding. The four aspects illustrate how the discourse of resilience is surrounded by rather diverse mechanisms and dynamics, which may account for the concepts popularity. It further indicates that while the concept promises a pro-poor and context sensitive approach to climate change resilience, it also risks effacing the principal differences between development and climate change adaptation.
Keywords: resilience; climate change; adaptation; development; Global South
Martin D. Munk: Resilience between the individual and life-modes
In this paper it is demonstrated how the understanding of resilience is enhanced and shaped when using the concepts of oikos (the Greek word for household) and life-modes. Instead of applying a rather problematic welfare capitalism model, which partially provides a negative social reproduction and production, it is suggested to apply a household/family model. The household/family model outlines that positive social reproduction and production, including real and productive values, potentially creates an essential bond between viable household, family, work, socialisation, and network based communities, resulting in socially, economically, mentally, and ecologically sustainable survival of families and livelihoods over generations. Furthermore, it is stressed that serious fallacies will occur if resilience is solely understood and explained in terms of individual resources and characteristics. Nonetheless, it is recognised that non-cognitive traits such as persistence are important. Offspring is more strongly socialised and positioned in intact and viable families by transmitting and practicing a set of long-term reproduction and production strategies, which compared to upper strata are less common in the lower and middle strata. Thus, resilience is unequal.
Keywords: resilience; viable households; community; reproduction; societal models
Robin May Schott: Resilience, normativity and vulnerability
Does the critical discourse about resilience reiterate the problematic dichotomy between suffering and agency that the concept of resilience inscribes? In this discussion piece, I engage with Brad Evans’ and Julian Reid’s reflections on resilience. Although I share with Evans and Reid a normative critique of resilience, I am critical of their discussion of vulnerability. Rather than arguing that vulnerability precludes political transformation, as Evans and Reid do, or that vulnerability enables political coalition, as in Judith Butler’s account of precarity, one should ask: how is vulnerability framed? I argue for framing vulnerability through a critical theory of the victim which explores the interconnections between injurability and agency rather than treating them as oppositional terms.
Keywords: resilience; vulnerability; normativity; victim; natality
Bue Rübner Hansen: Resilience beyond resistance and adaptability – A genealogy
Over the recent decades, the concept of resilience has spread from environmental science to a number of disciplines dealing with crisis and disaster management. From psychology, public health, and human resource management to development and security studies, resilience is replacing an earlier focus on resistance and adaptability within these fields. There exist several studies dealing with resilience discourse as a key to a diagnostic of the present. While some hail resilience as a new register of ecological resistance for social movements, other decries resilience as a discourse legitimating the neoliberal state’s abandonment of the poor to catastrophe. This article proposes a framework for reading together these highly diverging interpretations of resilience through a historicising of the concept of resilience, tracing its rise genealogically in relation to the concepts of resistance and adaptability. Through readings of authors such as Thomas Hobbes, Carl von Clausewitz, Herbert Spencer, and C.J. Holling, the article shows how these concepts were imported from scientific materialism into pragmatic and normative discourses of defence of life against shifting threats to individual and social life. The article shows how the shifting importance of the concepts of resistance, adaptability and resilience must be related to changing social-ecological problems and the forms of contestation and governance that respond to them.
Keywords: resilience; resistance; adaptability; philosophies of war, crisis and climate change
Theresa Scavenius and Malene Rudolf Lindberg: Climate resilience - From action deficit to institution building
This article addresses resilience in relation to climate change. Currently, our communities are not resilient to climate changes due to a strikingly limited political and scientific framing of climate change as solely a problem of emissions and individual behaviour. Owing to vulgarized interpretations of individual incentives for climate action, contextual barriers to action and the efficiency of individual climate action, this causes an action deficit on both collective and individual levels. We argue that a paradigm shift is needed in order to engage with more adequate academic analysis and efficient policies. This new paradigm should focus on the capacities of societal institutions, which reflect precisely the level of climate resilience in a society. Resilience is not about societal and political immovability when faced with crisis of the dimensions of the climate crisis. It is about changing our society and politics and building institutions that enable us to properly respond to crisis.
Keywords: climate change; resilience; action deficit; institutional capacity; institution building
Stefan Gaarsmand Jacobsen: Resilient justice? The system rhetoric of the climate movement
This article uses the idea of resilience as a point of departure for analysing some contemporary challenges to the climate justice movement posed by social-ecological sciences. Climate justice activists are increasingly rallying for a system-change, demanding fundamental changes to political bureaucracy and the economy, which would put ecology, biodiversity and climate change first for all future political decisions. Since the concept of resilience has taken up a central role in recent developments in ecological sciences, it has also become part of the activist debate. The article’s main argument is that the scientific framework behind resilience is not politically neutral and that this framework tends to weaken the activist’s demands for a just transition and place more emphasis on technical and bureaucratic processes.
Keywords: climate justice; social movements; resilience; contemporary history
Paul Gammelbo Nissen: The Tea Party movement - Ordinary, common sense
The article uses the 2010 political success of the Tea Party phenomenon as a jumping-off point to examine a number of ideological tropes and rhetorical devices in American politics. It argues that the political language of the Tea Party is not – as is often assumed – empty moralizing at the expense of intellectual depth, but rather draws on a wide variety of American political and intellectual themes and traditions. The article uses the campaign literature and polemic of key Tea Party affiliates – Sarah Palin, Christine O’Donnell, Glenn Beck, Ron Paul – as entry points to discuss the movement’s political strategies and interpretation of the role of government, individual liberty, American exceptionalism, constitutionalism, the free market, and the common people. In placing these discussions in their historical and intellectual context, the article argues for taking the Tea Party’s political message seriously, not least as a reflection of prevalent democratic concerns and frustrations with the American political system in its current incarnation.
Keywords: America; populism; exceptionalism; common sense; free market economics
Bjarke Skærlund Risager: Occupy Wall Street – A movement and its intellect(tuals)
This article traces the various forms and roles of intellectuals and intellectualism in the Occupy Wall Street protest camp in Zuccotti Park in New York in 2011 while simultaneously serving as an introduction to the movement. It shows how the movement was formed by a range of intellectual ideas, both in terms of the political questions it posed and the tactics it employed. It also shows how Occupy affected the intellectual and political climate insofar as it became a phenomenon that everyone with an interest in public debate (and space!) had to take a stand on. The article argues that Occupy, with its experiment in alternative social and democratic structures, was an exercise in a form of organic and collective intelligence that attempted to guide American society in a more democratic and equal direction. By way of conclusion, the article discusses the aftermath of the protest camp and the effects of the movement.
Keywords: social movements; activism; USA; collective intelligence; intellectuals