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How does the idea of ?complex emergencies? reflect changes in the understanding of risk and danger in the post-Cold War security environment?
A Reflection Piece of 1500 words in length (excluding referencing and bibliography).
Assignment 1: Reflection Piece

BSP499: The Politics and Practices of International Crisis Management
(15% of your overall grade)

Students are asked to answer the following question:

How does the idea of ‘complex emergencies’ reflect changes in the understanding of risk and danger in the post-Cold War security environment?

Responses should be no less than 1500 words (excluding referencing and bibliography).

Submitted before noon on Thursday 5th November, 2015

Lecture slides are also attached.
Seminar 1: Crises, Disasters, Emergencies: Background Concepts and Issues

Seminar Introduction:

We are living through what many would agree is an ‘age of crisis’. Financial crises, geopolitical crises, health crises, environmental crises, and refugee crises (amongst others) appear regularly in our daily news. Seminar 2 will look to situate these developments in a historical context. On the one hand we will look to place the concept of crisis in a historical context, but on the other we will ask what living in an ‘age of crisis’ makes of us?
We will use this seminar, firstly, to ask what it means to frame a problem as a ‘crisis’? What is a crisis? How does a crisis differ from a disaster, an emergency, or a catastrophe? What kind of response does a crisis demand?

Second, we will inquire into the different ways in which crisis is understood across disciplines. What similarities and differences can be found in the way in which ‘crisis’ is understood across Economics, International Relations, History or Philosophy (amongst others)? How are crises responded to in these disparate disciplines? What implications does this have on the way in which each discipline is organized?

Finally, we will ask about the place of crisis in history. What age didn’t regard itself as an age of crisis? What is new about the way in which we regard our crises? What does this tell us about our contemporary condition?


to introduce students to the concept of ‘crisis’

to inquire into the status of crises, emergencies and disasters within the current security environment

to inquire into the social, political and historical implications of recognizing our time as an ‘age of crisis’

Seminar 2: The Evolution of International Crisis and Emergency Management

Seminar Introduction:

Crisis and emergency management is now receiving substantial governmental and scholarly attention. A series of high profile incidences including terrorism, civil wars, financial crises and natural/technological disasters have provided the impetus to a profound restructing in the logics and practices of contemporary emergency response. Driven by the assumption that the world is an increasingly uncertain and dangerous place, substantial investments are now being made to ensure our resilience to the next major event.


The aims of this seminar are:

– To familiarize students with the evolution of the related fields of Crisis and Emergency Management

– To introduce students to the increasingly popular concept of Resilience

Reading list:

Journal articles and book chapters:

Required readings (in bold):

Zebrowski, Chris, ‘The nature of resilience’, in Resilience (2013), 1(3), pp. 159–173, this can also be found in attached PDF document, Zebrowski, Chris, ‘The nature of resilience’, in Zebrowski, Chris, Value of Resilience,(Routledge, 2015), chapter 3.

Zebrowski, Chris, ‘Securing emergence’, in Zebrowski, Chris, Value of Resilience. (Routledge, 2015), chapter 4, a PDF version is attached.

Cabinet Office, A strong Britain in an age of uncertainty: the national security strategy, (The Stationery Office, 2010).

Boin, Arjen, ‘Preparing for the Future: Critical Challenges in Crisis Management’, in Journal of contingencies and crisis management (2006), 8(4), pp. 185–191.

Cooper, M., Genealogies of Resilience: From Systems Ecology to the Political Economy of Crisis Adaptation, in Security dialogue (2011), 14(2), pp. 143–160

Duffield, M., ‘Complex Emergencies and the Crisis of Developmentalism’, in IDS Bulletin (1994), 25(4), pp. 37–45.

Alexander, D., ‘The Study of Natural Disasters, 1977-97: Some Reflections on a Changing Field of Knowledge’, in Disasters (1997), 21(4), pp. 284–304.

Anderson, B., ‘What Kind of Thing is Resilience?’, in Politics (2015), 35(1), pp. 60–66.

Boin, Arjen, ‘Introduction to the Special Issue, The New World of Crises and Crisis Management: Implications for Policymaking and Research’, in Review of policy research (2009), 26(4), pp. 367–378.

Hilhorst, T., ‘Disaster, Conflict and Society: Everyday Politics of Crisis Response’, in Hilhorst, Thea., Disaster, conflict and society in crises : everyday politics of crisis response, (Routledge, 2013), pp. 1-15.

Supplementary readings:

Boin, Arjen, The politics of crisis management : public leadership under pressure, (Cambridge University Press, 2005), Chapter 1.

Morin, E., ‘For a Crisiology’, in Organization & environment (1993), 7 (1), pp. 5–22.

Dillon, M., ‘Governing Terror: The State of Emergency of Biopolitical Emergence’, in International political sociology (2007), 1(1), pp. 7–28.

Kselleck, R., Richter, M., ‘Crisis’, in Journal of the history of ideas (2006), 67(2), pp. 357–400.

Starn, R.. ‘Historians and “Crisis”’, in Past & present (1971), 52, pp. 3–22.

Books: as further readings (not necessarily, just in case you have no access to some of items listed above)

Roitman, Janet (Lee), Anti-Crisis, (Duke University Press, 2014).

Roitman, Janet, Crisis, (Political Concepts, 2015).

Aradau, Munster, Rens Van., Politics of Catastrophe, (Routledge, 2012).

Blanchot, Maurice, The writing of the disaster, (University of Nebraska Press, 1995).

Virilio, Paul, Original Accident, (Polity, 2006).

Boin, Arjen, Governing After Crisis, (Cambridge University Press, 2008).

MitchellL, T.. Resilience: A risk management approach, (ODI, 2012)

Klein, Naomi, The shock doctrine : the rise of disaster capitalism, (Penguin, 2008).

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