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Emergency Futures: Exception, Urgency, Interval, Hope

Anderson, B.

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Emergency as a descriptor, technique and legal-political device has become a taken-for-granted way of apprehending and governing events and situations. In this paper, I explore the temporality of emergency, through reflections on the use of declarations of emergency in relation to US-based Black Lives Matter protests. I do so in the context of claims and counter-claims about contemporary transformations in what Rheinhart Kosselleck (2004: 241) terms the ‘expected otherness of the future’. Arguing for changes in the form of the ‘expected otherness of the future’ rather than its simple loss, disappearance or absence, I describe how emergency operates around a temporality of exceptionality, urgency and interval. Formal and informal declarations of emergency are, in addition, imbued with hope: the hope that time remains and action can make a difference to events. What the use of declarations of emergency by Black Lives Matter activists does is disrupt the geo-historically specific divide between the everyday and emergency by naming conditions that mix the endemic and the evental as emergencies. In the spark of hope that is the act of declaring that ongoing conditions should be treated as emergencies, the ‘otherness of the future’ folds into and becomes part of the present.


Anderson, B. (2017). Emergency Futures: Exception, Urgency, Interval, Hope. Sociological Review, 65(3), 463-477.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 25, 2016
Online Publication Date Feb 27, 2017
Publication Date Sep 1, 2017
Deposit Date Nov 25, 2016
Publicly Available Date Nov 29, 2016
Journal Sociological Review
Print ISSN 0038-0261
Electronic ISSN 1467-954X
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 65
Issue 3
Pages 463-477
Publisher URL


Accepted Journal Article (270 Kb)

Copyright Statement
Anderson, B. (2017) 'Emergency futures : exception, urgency, interval, hope.', Sociological review., 65 (3). pp. 463-477. Copyright © 2016 The Author(s). Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications.

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