Presentation at Rice University Houston (Texas) – Society for Literature, Science and the Arts SLSA

Rice University Houston, Texas – Society for Literature, Science and the Arts SLSA 29th Annual Conference: After Biopolitics
12th – 15th November, 2015

Panel with Christoph Engemann (MECS | Leuphana) and Stefan Höhne (TU Berlin): The Governmentality and Media of Survival

Abstract Talk: Areas of Invulnerability. From Survival to Resilience
Areas of Invulnerability. From Survival to Resilience
By the early 1970s distributed network thinking already seemed to have penetrated other fields of research – like for example systems ecology. The Canadian ecologist Crawford S. Holling conceptualized ecosystems as „spatially heterogeneous distributions [with] time lags“ and as a „mosaic of spatial elements with distinct biological, physical, and chemical characteristics that are linked by mechanisms of biological and physical transport“ (Holling 1978, Holling 1973). Rather than focusing on the survival of a particular species he was more interested in the persistence of a system as a whole and it’s ability to absorb certain  amounts of change and disturbance. By the use of computer simulations he explored the impacts of external shocks, the response space of a system and its „areas of invulnerabilities“, for which he defined the measure of resilience. Shocks and changes can threaten survival, but they can also be seen as learning opportunities – a surprising but consequent perspective in the light of nuclear deterrence. My paper will reconstruct the Cold War origins of resilience thinking and discuss the transition from survival to resilience that conceptualizes life as an epiphenomenon of infrastructures. I will link the discussion to contemporary biopolitics of resilience in the context of global environmental change.

For more information see here.