IAS Annual Report 2014-15 - page 17

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Theorising Climate Change and Human Migration: affect, politics and the future-conditional
For Professor
Fiona de Londras
the concept of ‘emergency’ is
a powerful one for legal scholarship. Once an emergency is
(formally or informally) declared, ‘normal’ legal processes and
standards are adjusted so that states can—and routinely do—act
in a manner and introduce policies and laws that are not normally
considered acceptable. Outside of law the ‘emergency’ or ‘crisis’
is also a powerful paradigm, demanding or licensing certain
responses and legitimating particular interventions, usually by
the state. These responses can be fiscal, social or even military.
In spite of its significant power, the concept of emergency (or its
synonyms of crisis or contingency) is vaguely defined, meaning
that its powerful capacities are difficult to confine.
Her day long workshop
The (In)Adequacy of the Emergency
brought together scholars from within and beyond
Durham University to examine the concept of ‘emergency’,
its meaning, application and usages throughout different
disciplines. The workshop offered an opportunity for
truly cross-disciplinary interaction and a wide range of
participants were attracted from: law, geography, nursing
and midwifery, public health, literature and politics and
international relations. Papers and discussions exposed very
different conceptualisations of emergency across different
fields as the concept of ‘emergency’ was discussed from
three different thematic perspectives: the definition of
emergency, the legacy of an emergency, and the practice of
dealing with and responding to an emergency. Discussion
considered how the concept of ‘emergency’ plays different
roles in different contexts: in road accidents, for example,
categorising something as an emergency allows for the
deployment of resources that return traffic flow to ‘normal’
as soon as possible, whereas in counter-terrorism or
autobiography, ‘emergency’ often distorts our understanding
of ‘normal’ so that a return to how things were ‘before’ may
simply not be possible. In defining, responding to, and
understanding the after-effects of emergency attention must
be paid to the personal, communal, societal and institutional.
A personal emergency may have knock-on effects for the
community of the family, for example, but little material
significance to the state, whereas a national emergency may
pass certain individuals by as insignificant. Emergency is a
monolithic concept, therefore, and neither is it necessarily
systemically ‘bad’.
The key outcome of this programme was the formation of
intellectual links for scholars within and beyond the University.
Innovation emerges in all walks of life: in business, new
products replace old ones; in art, new styles come into
fashion; in science, new technologies supersede outmoded
ones; in the environment, new species evolve and appear.
Different academic disciplines have sought to test these or
related propositions about the emergence and extinction
of innovation. For some scholars, the emergence of
innovation is explained through the diffusion process in
which new ideas/products become popular, reach their
tipping point and then decline. For others, their studies
draw on models of evolution used in biological studies to
map out the probability of reproductive selection amongst
the population in evolutionary games.
Emergence and
Extinction: innovation, progress and change
organised by
Pojanath Bhatanacharoen
(Business) explored different
theoretical and empirical approaches to understanding how
a subject emerges and subsequently declines. The aim
was to consider in more detail how these processes unfold
in different contexts though a series of seminars. Speakers
included Dr James Pattison (University of Manchester),
former IAS Fellow from the 2007/08
year Paul
Ormerod and Professor Mark Casson (University of Reading).
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