jueves, 27 de noviembre de 2014

What is preparedness?

In my last post I was talking about some references (Collier, 2008; Lakoff, 2009. Samimian-Darash, 2009. Anderson, 2010) pointing out if regardless of whether the next step was a new Cold War or a biological strategy, the most interesting issue (for me) was the consequences of it in terms of preparedness. Nevertheless, what exactly preparedness means when we talk about the biotic plan or otherwise, a new Cold War?

In fact, preparedness is a new logic of preparation or readiness in order to manage a new kind of risk with which states have to struggle since new technologies, bio-terrorism or big catastrophes as Katrina appeared.

Before the appearance of preparedness, risk assessment was made based on mathematical calculation and statistics, using a decision-making plan (see Fischhoff & Kadvany, 2013). This way of understanding risk was sufficient until Cold War (this period is matched with the computer and technological boom) but at this time, the chances of risk appears exponentially grow: states begin to understand that it can be anywhere, caused by anyone, in a global scale (and no longer between states or well-defined territories, blurring boundaries).

Thus, states moved from a precaution logic to a preparedness logic, in which the most important is to be ready in order to cope with this next emergency, whatever their nature may be and whenever it can occur. Three are the main shifts:

a)      As I already said, boundaries between states or territories are erased or blurred. If the risk can arrive by any way and at any time, is necessary to adopt a global-scale in order to be prepared. Here are a key role of WHO, WTO, FAO, CDC, ECDC… institutions that are linked with states, other local establishments, hospitals, laboratories, universities...
b)      This initial global-scale, needs to be assembled with local associations in different scales until enrol lay people in their daily lives.
c)      Finally, with preparedness states are struggling with the future directly, from present, so, in some way, the virtual-future are becoming (in the Deleleuzian sense) present. We can even say that the present are being wrote from the future, and not the opposite.


Anderson, B. (2010). Preemption, precaution, preparedness: Anticipatory action and future geographies. Progress in Human Geography, 34(6), 777-798
Collier, S.J. (2008). Enacting Catastrophe: preparedness, insurance, budgetary rationalization. Economy and society, 37(2), 225-250.
Fischhoff, B. Kadvany, J. (2011). Risk: a very short introduction. New York: Oxford.
Lakoff, A. (2009). Swine Flu and the Preparedness Apparatus. Keele University. Newcastle.

Samimian-Darash, L. (2009). A pre-event configuration for biological threats: preparedness and the constitution of biosecurity events.American Ethnologist, 36(3), 478-491.

Photo Credit: Flickr, user: Nuclear Regulatoy Comission (http://bit.ly/1xVNyTz)