Facing adversity together: the biopolitics of the community-focussed recovery policies in post-earthquake Canterbury, New Zealand
(2020) Critical Policy Studies
Community building was a feature of the recovery policies implemented to respond to the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes in New Zealand. This strategy aimed for survivors to manage the disruption of the events by activating and enhancing their community networks. Drawing on Foucault’s and Esposito’s theorizing of biopolitics, community, and immunity, this article provides a close reading of the policies and tools implemented to manage the post-earthquake context. I outline the unacknowledged effects of two intertwined forms of governance. First, populational governance through which communities were guided to take care of themselves within a recovery framework, which prized resilience. Second, therapeutic governance in which vulnerable individuals and groups were offered specialized, therapeutic assistance. I argue, whilst operating at different levels, both forms of governance functioned to re-value the desires, motivations, and actions of survivors in terms of their capacity to contribute to post-earthquake life in Canterbury. © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
biopolitics; community; Disaster; exclusion; policy