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Anderson (2010). Security and the future: Anticipating the event of terror

Bibliographic details:

Anderson, B. (2010). Security and the future: Anticipating the event of terror. Geoforum, 41(2), 227-235.


This paper explores the relation between processes of security and futurity in the context of efforts to govern the complexity and contingency of events of terror. It argues that processes of securing function by generating a dangerous or promissory supplement to the present that thereafter propels the extension of forms of security. The paper develops this argument through an example of how an event of terror was anticipated: a RAND exercise into the aftermath of a ‘ground burst’ nuclear explosion in Long Beach, California on March 14th 2005. It argues that exercises (in)secure through three quasi-causal operations, each of which render events of terror actionable and result in specific relations between the present and future. First, ‘hypothetically possible’ generic events are named. The future takes place as a threatening horizon. Second, the defined phases of an event’s happening are staged (an advent, its multiplication into a crisis in the context of a milieu, and a response/recovery phase). The here and now is suspended between an ‘as if’ future and the present. Third, the consequences of the event are played. The future is both an intensified ‘practical’ presence embodied by exercise participants and an outside that exceeds attempts to definitively know it. The conclusion summarizes the implications of the paper for work on futurity, security and the event.