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Resilient Life: The Art of Living Dangerously



Resilient Life: The Art of Living Dangerously

Brad Evans, Julian Reid

ISBN: 978-0-745-67152-9 March 2014 Polity 208 Pages


What does it mean to live dangerously? This is not just a philosophical question or an ethical call to reflect upon our own individual recklessness. It is a deeply political issue, fundamental to the new doctrine of ‘resilience’ that is becoming a key term of art for governing planetary life in the 21st Century. No longer should we think in terms of evading the possibility of traumatic experiences. Catastrophic events, we are told, are not just inevitable but learning experiences from which we have to grow and prosper, collectively and individually. Vulnerability to threat, injury and loss has to be accepted as a reality of human existence.

In this original and compelling text, Brad Evans and Julian Reid explore the political and philosophical stakes of the resilience turn in security and governmental thinking. Resilience, they argue, is a neo-liberal deceit that works by disempowering endangered populations of autonomous agency. Its consequences represent a profound assault on the human subject whose meaning and sole purpose is reduced to survivability. Not only does this reveal the nihilistic qualities of a liberal project that is coming to terms with its political demise. All life now enters into lasting crises that are catastrophic unto the end.

Preface and Acknowledgements ix

1 Anthropocene 1

2 Insecure by Design 38

3 The Poverty of Vulnerability 68

4 Living Dangerously 91

5 Atmos 120

6 Endgames 141

7 The Art of Politics 167

Notes 204

Select Bibliography 223

Index 231

“Brad Evans and Julian Reid provide a radical critique of the concept of resilience and its traveling companions of vulnerability, insecurity, and catastrophe”
NY Journal of Books

"One of the most radical and illuminating critiques of the currently fashionable notion of resilience."
Saskia Sassen, Columbia University

"Anyone interested in political theory after biopolitics must read this book."
Cary Wolfe, Rice University

"Evans and Reid do more than provide a devastating critique of resilience – they dare us to leave this barren landscape by having the confidence to embrace human life as art, and to assert our poetic and dramatic subjectivities against the dominance of the machine."
Mark Duffield, University of Bristol

"A tour de force. Brad Evans and Julian Reid mount a powerful indictment of the prophetic image of thought and the oppressive worldview of endless insecurity and threat that such thinking produces. If there is any possibility of welcoming and celebrating a world yet to come, one that is radically different from what currently is, we must, they insist, begin by moving beyond the inertia and defeatism that a catastrophic imaginary generates."
Adrian Parr, University of Cincinnati