Visions of Crisis, Blueprints of Rule, with Saptarishi Bandopadhyay
Disasters are all around us. In everyday parlance, disasters are understood as exceptional occurrences that destroy human life, property, and resources. For centuries, people have looked to political authorities for protection from disasters and for relief in the aftermath. Yet, the COVID-19 pandemic and an endless torrent of storms, floods, and forest fires have shown that modern states and intergovernmental institutions frequently fail this burden. Worse, world leaders routinely ignore evidence that accelerated climate change is an already-rolling planetary catastrophe. So, what is a "disaster"? Who determines when and why a disaster has occurred or ceased? And what is the relationship between such occurrences and modern states who promise to "manage" them?
In his book All Is Well: Catastrophe and the Making of the Normal State, Saptarishi Bandopadhyay argues that there is no such thing as a “disaster” outside of rituals of legal, administrative, and scientific contestation through which such occurrences are morally distinguished from the rhythms of everyday life. Disasters, Bandopadhyay asserts, are artifacts of "normal" rule. They result from the same, mundane strategies of knowledge-making and violence by which authorities, experts, and lay people struggle to develop state-like power, to define and defend the social order.
Register below and join us on Wednesday, September 28 at 1 p.m.
Speaker profile: Saptarishi Bandopadhyay is an associate professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University. He has followed and engaged disaster management efforts in India, in the borderlands between India, Pakistan, and China, and in the Philippines. He has learned from and advised officials and civil society in India, Thailand, the Philippines, and Canada and has published widely on disaster risk, international law, and related areas. Saptarishi has received research and advocacy grants and fellowships from the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Harvard University, the Public International Law and Policy Group, the Center for International Environmental Law, Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies, York University's Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research, and the Berkman-Klein Center for Internet & Society, among other institutions.