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IBS Speaker Series: Jennifer Lawrence
October 24, 2022 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Title: Governing Disaster, Sustaining Accumulation: Extraction as Environmentality
Abstract: Alongside hastening climate emergency and global crises of governance, it is essential to develop a dynamic political ecology of disaster so that we might better understand the roots of these interconnected crises as well as the ways to build solidarities for justice. In this work, I challenge dominant discourses of disaster that articulate crisis as a discrete event – an oil spill, a flash flood, a pipeline explosion, a wildfire, a pandemic – in effort to show the rooted ways in which extractive governing rationalities set the preconditions for disaster. In other words, rearticulating disaster as a process that is foundational to extraction rather than a result of it. In this formulation, the global appetite for oil collides with social values, regulatory frameworks, and discursive constructions to shape and respond to disaster often resulting in second- and third-order disasters, while simultaneously reinscribing the veiled governing conditions that manufacture disaster. This reformulated articulation of political and ecological crisis advances an understanding of contemporary environmental governance as disastrous in and of itself and anticipates political possibilities and solidarities for cultivating just and flourishing futures.
Bio: Jennifer L. Lawrence is an Assistant Professor in the Urban + Environmental Planning program at University of Virginia. Combining critical and creative approaches, her scholarship examines contradictions within environmental governance, particularly with reference to petrochemical industries and geographies. Dr. Lawrence’s work interrogates the systemic production of crises to understand how extractive logics of governance impact lived experiences directly in frontline communities as well as through the protracted disaster of climate change. Demonstrating spatio-temporal tensions between chronic and acute socio-environmental disasters and the role that the politics of perception plays in shaping understanding of environmental degradation, Dr. Lawrence’s work highlights contradictions at the intersection of economic systems, resource extraction, and socio-environmental (in)justice. She earned her PhD in Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought at Virginia Tech in 2015. Recent projects include Biopolitical Disaster (Routledge, 2017) and The Resilience Machine (Routledge, 2018) and her work has recently been published in journals such as New Political Science, Geoforum, Political Geography, as well as The Oxford Handbook of Complex Risks and Resilience. She is currently working on a manuscript on the political ecology of disaster contextualized through the case of the Deepwater Horizon disaster which highlights the regulatory landscape of extreme energy, the protracted biopolitical effects of disaster management, as well as the possibilities for solidarity movements to address political and environmental crises.