Securing and scaling resilient futures: neoliberalization, infrastructure, and topologies of power
In this paper we explore the scaling of resilience policy and practice not as an effect upon infrastructure but as enacted through infrastructure. Drawing on Foucault’s topological analyses of governmental power, especially his elaboration of its coeval centripetal and centrifugal flows, we argue that understanding the scaling of resilience policy and practice involves acknowledging its infrastructural composition. We examine this infrastructural scaling through an empirical analysis of UK resilience policy and practice, as recounted by those working across multiple organizations involved in planning for, and coping with, aleatory events. This reveals how the neoliberal decentralizing refrain, expressed in resilience policy and its critique, is both sustained and displaced by interwoven circulatory mechanisms of obstruction, filtration, and acceleration. Together these infrastructural flows amount to ‘fractionally coherent’ scalings that not only centralize governmental power but are constitutive of governmental centres. Our analyses of infrastructural scaling suggest that resiliency policy and practice is far less decentralized, or localized, than others have suggested, with both centripetal and centrifugal flows of power resulting from a composite of infrastructural circulatory mechanisms that can variously scale political agency in relation to aleatory events.
This paper was based upon research conducted within the EPSRC-ESRC funded research project ‘Resilient Futures’ (EP/I005943/1).
- Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering