The research we are presenting and where...
We have two upcoming papers at the RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2018, Geographical landscapes / changing landscapes of geography
'To Have and To Hoard: Unpacking material geographies of excess and abundance’
Stockpiling: the material culture and moral geographies of prepper hoards
Abstract: ‘Preppers’ are in many ways defined by the practice of stockpiling or hoarding – of food, medicine, water, self-defence and first aid supplies – in anticipation of catastrophic futures. Yet they defy typical definitions of hoarding (Herring 2014) as this intentional excess is neatly organised, well hidden to guard against present ridicule and future demands, yet kept in constant rotation with the more public inner layers of the house in kitchen cupboards. In this paper we will consider the futures embodied in these personal stockpiles and the forms of ‘haunting’ these material interiorities perform (Newell 2018), as preppers curate and ingest their visions of the future.
We draw on interviews and visual ethnographies of preppers in the UK, as well as analysis of online ‘how-to’ resources such as blogs that circulate advice and tips on preparing emergency stockpiles. We consider the relationship between the material cultures of prepping and moral geographies of abundance and scarcity, domesticity and responsibility. In maintaining within the home this material manifestation of imagined future transgressions, eruptions and collapse outside the home, we ask to what extent the prepper, with their personal future food bank, subverts or epitomises the ideal neo-liberal autonomous individual.
At Home In Future-Present Ruins: The Precarious Comfort of Prepping Landscapes
Abstract: ‘In recent ethnographic encounters with ‘the uncanny’, Freud’s (1919) thesis has been revisited to demonstrate the intractable interweaving of the ‘homely’ and ‘unhomely’ within landscapes, through mechanisms of repression and veiling (Navaro-Yashin 2012; Buch-Segal 2016; Bear 2008). In this paper we will contemplate if and how the un/homely coexist when people actively rehearse the possibility of catastrophic futures. By making catastrophe an operable terrain within the everyday and familiar, these practices represent incomplete attempts to prescript the unhomely in ways that shape the meaning and material of the homely.
‘Preppers’ anticipate future scenarios - from complete social and infrastructural collapse to more individuated crises - and prepare by stockpiling their homes with food, water, medicine and fuel; by securing external places to shelter; and by developing self-sufficiency skills (Kabel and Chmidling 2014). Thinking about preppers as committed to maintaining homely landscapes by subverting mechanisms of repression through preparedness, we will enter into various insecurely scripted landscapes of sanctuary and threat: including that of the well prepared home ‘containing’ scenarios of rupture and dislocation, and the imagined devastated nature outside seeded with sanctuaries and resources to rehearse and support survival. Drawing on stories from Hawaii’s ‘false’ nuclear threat and ethnographic research of UK preppers, we will consider what this can contribute to understandings of the uncanny landscapes of the body/home/nature (Kaika 2004) when ‘turned in upon itself’ (Harrison 2008) in the imagination of catastrophe.
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