The Politics of Possibility: Risk and Security Beyond Probability

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9780822355601: The Politics of Possibility: Risk and Security Beyond Probability

Since September 11, 2001, the imagination of "low probability, high consequence" events has become a distinctive feature of contemporary politics. Uncertain futures—devastation by terrorist attack, cyber crime, flood, financial market collapse—must be discerned and responded to as possibilities, however improbable they may be. In The Politics of Possibility, Louise Amoore examines this development, tracing its genealogy through the diverse worlds of risk management consulting, computer science, commercial logistics, and data visualization. She focuses on the increasingly symbiotic relationship between commercial opportunities and state security threats, a relation that turns the trusted, iris-scanned traveler into "a person of national security interest," and the designer of risk algorithms for casino and insurance fraud into a homeland security resource. Juxtaposing new readings of Agamben, Foucault, Derrida, Massumi, and Connolly with interpretations of post–9/11 novels and artworks, Amoore analyzes the "politics of possibility" and its far-reaching implications for society, associative life, and political accountability.

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About the Author:

Louise Amoore is Professor of Political Geography at Durham University in Durham, England. She is the author of Globalization Contested: An International Political Economy of Work, editor of The Global Resistance Reader, and a coeditor of Risk and the War on Terror.


"The Politics of Possibility addresses a topic that has been crying out for just this kind of novel analysis. Louise Amoore scrutinizes how the security state has shifted its focus from probability to possibility. Combining theoretical sophistication with an eye for the telling detail, she offers new ways of thinking about the practices of sovereign power and the making of security decisions."—Michael Dillon, author of Biopolitics of Security in the 21st Century: A Political Analytic of Finitude

"Just as Foucault laid bare the machinery of modern authority with prescience and originality, Louise Amoore lays bare the machinery of power operating in the contemporary neoliberal West. It is based on authorization, on systems of data mining and algorithmic expertise that allow corporations, consultancies, and states, often acting in conjunction, to frame and enact the future for specific profit and security interests. This book subtly and elegantly repudiates any inclination to think that sovereign power has waned."—Ash Amin, coauthor of Arts of the Political: New Openings for the Left

"Louise Amoore’s The Politics of Possibility is theoretically sophisticated, empirically engaged, and highly relevant to our contemporary milieu. This is a most admirable combination." (Colin Koopman Theory & Event)

"[T]his is not only a theoretically engaging and stimulating book, but also a very empirically rich and nuanced contribution to contemporary work on risk and security." (Maj Grasten Political Studies Review 2016-08-01)

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