The Time of Catastrophe: Multidisciplinary Approaches to the Age of Catastrophe, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Time of Catastrophe

Multidisciplinary Approaches to the Age of Catastrophe, 1st Edition

By Christopher Dole, Robert Hayashi, Andrew Poe, Austin Sarat


160 pages

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If catastrophes are, by definition, exceptional events of such magnitude that worlds and lives are dramatically overturned, the question of timing would pose a seemingly straightforward, if not redundant question. The Time of Catastrophe demonstrates the analytic productiveness of this question, arguing that there is much to be gained by interrogating the temporal conceits of conventional understandings of catastrophe and the catastrophic. Bringing together a distinguished, interdisciplinary group of scholars, the book develops a critical language for examining 'catastrophic time', recognizing the central importance of, and offering a set of frameworks for, examining the alluring and elusive qualities of catastrophe. Framed around the ideas of Agamben, Kant and Benjamin, and drawing on philosophy, history, law, political science, anthropology and the arts, this volume seeks to demonstrate how the question of 'catastrophic time' is in fact a question about something much more than the frequency of disasters in our so-called 'Age of Catastrophe'.


"Pervasive reporting of events has brought us back to the catastrophe as central to governing. This imaginative collection refuses to define catastrophe as exceptional, or by its limits in time and space. The chapters pose the times of catastrophe as multiple, integrating catastrophic events with the everyday and with how we envision futures. The authors creatively cross critical theory with historical and cultural analyses, generating a rich research agenda and teaching us all why we ought to turn to disaster to understand governing." - Susan Sterett, Virginia Tech, USA

"The Time of Catastrophe poses critical questions about how we think about events, conditions, and practices that have located humanity on the threshold of total destruction. The chapters develop exciting and innovative bridges between theory and everyday life, and offer compelling new possibilities for understanding the past, present, and future." - Sylvia Schafer, University of Connecticut, USA

"This timely collection shifts from the places of human catastrophes to a consideration of their temporality. Innovative and challenging, the collection considers how catastrophes are endured, remembered, and projected. Far from being a moment in time, whether inside or outside history, the chapters in this book establish the catastrophes as trajectories: passages in time that mark our era." - Ronen Shamir, Tel-Aviv University, Israel

Table of Contents

When is catastrophe?: an introduction, Christopher Dole, Robert Hayashi, Andrew Poe, Austin Sarat and Boris Wolfson; Catastrophe’s apocalypse, Joseph Masco; Law and community in Fritz Lang’s M., BBC’s Luther: permanent catastrophe?, Elizabeth Stewart; Photographs of catastrophe and the representation of vulnerable humanity, Carolyn J. Dean; Catastrophe and human order: from political theology to political physiology, David W. Bates; Disaster, ruin, and permanent catastrophe, Lewis R. Gordon; Index.

About the Authors

Christopher Dole is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Amherst College, USA. Robert Hayashi is Associate Professor American Studies at Amherst College, USA. Andrew Poe is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Amherst College, USA. Austin Sarat is William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science and Associate Dean of the Faculty at Amherst College, USA. Boris Wolfson is Associate Professor of Russian at Amherst College, USA.

About the Series

Law, Justice and Power

Law, Justice and Power
To speak about law is always and necessarily to be engaged in a discourse about both justice and power. While law's relationship to justice is everywhere contingent and uncertain, law completely divorced from power is unthinkable. And, while law need not be virtuous to be law, if it had no effect in the world it could hardly be said to merit the name law. Recognizing these facts, the series on Law, Justice and Power takes a broad view of legal scholarship.It publishes books by social scientists, humanists and legal academics which connect an understanding of culture's normative ideals with examination of the complex ways that law works in the world, insist that justice is inseparable from social practices and analyze law as one form of power, one way of constituting, controlling and changing the social world. It focuses on state law as well as law in communities and cultural practices and on identities and their articulation in and through law, on law's power in the taken-for-granted world, on its role in the complex construction of nation and national power and on global developments which today destabilize and transform the meaning and significance of law. The series invites innovative scholarship that crosses disciplinary as well as geographic and temporal boundaries.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / Public
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General