Exercising Uncertainty: Aesthetic Renderings of Future Emergencies

  • Nathaniel O’Grady


The book turns in this chapter to consider the FRS’ use of training exercises in which potential future fire emergencies are simulated in order to both assess and redevelop response protocols. Exercises show how forms of knowledge I describe as aesthetic are now crucial for making sense of and imagining future emergencies around which governing techniques need to be tailored. Instead of merely being calculated through algorithmically based analytic processes confined to the functioning of computer-human interaction, future emergencies are performed in exercises through, and on, the bodies of exercise participants. This chapter shows how aesthetics allows the FRS to think of future fire emergencies that might be described as uncertain and less linked to fires that have taken place in the past. In turn, the chapter evaluates the affect that aesthetics and a drive towards governing futures recognised as uncertain has in terms of the development of new protocols through which future emergencies are attended to when they unravel in real time.


  1. Adey, P., & Anderson, B. (2012a). Affect and Security: Exercising Emergency in UK Civil Contingencies. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 29, 1092–1109.Google Scholar
  2. Adey, P., & Anderson, B. (2012b). Event and Anticipation: UK Civil Contingencies and the Space-Times of Decision. Environment and Planning A, 43, 2878–2899.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Amoore, L. (2013). The Politics of Possibility: Risk and Security Beyond Probability. Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Aradau, C., & Van Munster, R. (2011). Politics of Catastrophe: Genealogies of the Unknown. Routledge.Google Scholar
  5. Aradau, C., & Van Munster, R. (2012). The Time/Space of Preparedness: Anticipating the ‘Next Terrorist Attack’. Space and Culture, 15(2), 98–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Berlant, L. (2008). Thinking About Feeling Historical. Emotion, Space and Society, 1(1), 4–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Collier, S. J. (2008). Enacting Catastrophe; Preparedness, Insurance, Budgetary Rationalization. Economy and Society, 37(2), 224–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Davis, T. C. (2003). Stages of Emergency: The Casualties Union. Modern Drama, 46(2), 151–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Davis, T. C. (2007). Stages of Emergency: Cold War Nuclear Civil Defense. Durham: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. de Goede, M. (2008). Beyond Risk: Pre-Mediation and the Post 9/11 Imagination. Security Dialogue, 39(2–3), 155–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Der Derian, J. (2000). Virtuous War/Virtual Theory. International Affairs, 76(4), 771–788.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Derrida, J. (1999). Adieu Emmanuel Levinas. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Dewsbury, J. D. (2015). Non-Representational Landscapes and the Performative Affective Forces of Habit: From ‘Live’to ‘Blank’. Cultural Geographies, 22(1), 29–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Elden, S. (2013). Secure the Volume: Vertical Geopolitics and the Depth of Power. Political Geography, 34, 35–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Jameson, F. (2015). The Ancients and the Post-Moderns: On the Historicity of Forms. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  16. Massumi, B. (2011). Semblance and Event: Activist Philosophy and the Occurrent Arts. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  17. National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States. (2004). The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States.Google Scholar
  18. Nietzsche, F. (1872). The Birth of Tragedy: Out of the Spirit of Music. London: Penguin Classics.Google Scholar
  19. Thrift, N. (2007). Non-Representational Theory: Space, Politics and Affect. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  20. Wilson, H. F. (2017). On Geography and Encounter: Bodies, Borders, and Difference. Progress in Human Geography, 41(4), 451–471.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nathaniel O’Grady
    • 1
  1. 1.Geography and Environmental ManagementUniversity of the West of EnglandBristolUK

Personalised recommendations