Lecture 'Varieties of Catastrophism'
By Gareth Dale, Brunel University
Date: Wednesday, 15th February 2017
Time: From 12.30 to 2p.m.
Venue: Room Z/023 ICTA-UAB
The territory explored in this paper is the meeting ground of literary dystopia and ‘worst-case’ social-scientific prediction of destabilised nature-society relations. It begins with a survey of catastrophe scenarios, with excursuses on liberal dystopia, socialist dystopia, and resource exhaustion theories (Malthusian, neo-Malthusian, ‘peak oil’, &c.). Next, the paper presents stylised environmental catastrophe scenarios and a range of strategies currently advanced from mainstream political and economic actors (risk management, insurance, military response, &c.). Finally, we turn to questions of catastrophe faced by progressive and environmental movements, and attempt to winnow ‘good’ from ‘bad’ catastrophism.
Gareth is senior lecturer at Brunel University. He worked at Birkbeck College, the London School of Economics and Swansea University before joining Brunel in 2005. His most recent books are Karl Polanyi: A Life on the Left and Reconstructing Karl Polanyi: Excavation and Critique, and a critique of ‘Green Growth’ (all in 2016). His previous publications include books on Karl Polanyi (2010), the political economy of Eastern Europe, migrant labour in the European Union, and a trilogy on East Germany (its economic history, protest movements, and 1989 revolution). His work has appeared in Chinese, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Ukrainian, Croatian and German.