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The promise of security: resilience, surprise and epistemic politics

Document type: 
Scientific publication
Authors / Institution: 
Claudia Aradau
Publisher / Publication: 
Resilience: International Policies, Practices and Discourses, 2 (2): 73-87

Over the past decade, resilience has become a quasi-universal answer to problems of security and governance, from climate change to children's education, from indigenous history to disaster respons

e, and from development to terrorism. This article places the proliferation of resilience in relation to the earlier proliferation of security discourse and practice. Why resilience today? It answers this question by unpacking the epistemic regimes that underpin the move to resilience. Rather than tracing the differences between protection, prevention, pre-emption and resilience, the article argues that the political transformation that resilience entails becomes explicit in relation to the promise of security. Although the language of ‘promise’ and ‘promising’ has been widely used in relation to security, its political implications have remained unexplored. Underpinned by an epistemology of surprising events, resilience discourses reconfigure the promise of security. Through an empirical engagement with the turn to resilience in DFID's humanitarian policy in the UK and a theoretical reconsideration of Hannah Arendt's conceptualisation of the promise, I offer a critical vantage point on the transformation that resilience portends for our contemporary condition.

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