An image of the sea on the way back from Plymouth to give a seminar last week in the department of Geography – with Federico Caprotti, Richard Yarwood, Julian Brigstoke, Jon Shaw, Geoff Wilson et al. to talk to, I had a great stay. My hotel was near the blitz-bombed Charles Church – now a shell – right in the middle of the city
This is fourth airing of the work I’ve been doing on evacuation, simply titled EVACUATE: governing mobility in emergency, although each time I’ve given it I’ve explored different emphasis. It is drawn from a pretty impossible project actually, to try to explore the evolution of evacuation measures, their legalities, their politics, their experiences following the second world war – although I’m working on the rationale for this historical period at the moment. So this works across a range of examples and tries to build some sort of archive of evacuation – or collection of distinctive and exemplary cases. These cases currently range from evacuations during emergencies, crises, war and conflict, so within state boundaries, as well as out of them. The importance of particular points or nodes in evacuation is very interesting, and I’m focusing at the moment on airports and embassies – these seem to be key points of escape – but also the holding stages in evacuation, like shelters and temporary rest centres.
I’m also looking at the various systems that structure and track particular evacuees, in particular contexts, with Phil Kirby’s help. These systems are problematic not least because the task is extremely technologically and bureaucratically difficult – or has proved so at least so far. The US is trying to institute a national system. Furthermore, who is tracked and how renders some very difficult decisions over categories of vulnerability and what happens when a subject, perhaps an undocumented subject, or a ‘non-citizen’, requires this kind of welfare.
More as I progress.