Disasters and Social Reproduction:
Crisis Response between the State and Community
by Peer Illner
Published 2020 by Pluto Press
Mapping Social Reproduction Theory Series
Paperback ISBN 9780745339542
eBook ISBN 9781786805515
Many communities in the United States have been abandoned by the state. What happens when natural disasters add to their misery? This book looks at the broken relationship between the federal government and civil society in times of crises.
Mutual aid has gained renewed importance in providing relief when hurricanes, floods and pandemics hit, as cuts to state spending put significant strain on communities struggling to survive. Harking back to the self-organised welfare programmes of the Black Panther Party, radical social movements from Occupy to Black Lives Matter are building autonomous aid networks within and against the state. However, as the federal responsibility for relief is lifted, mutual aid faces a profound dilemma: do ordinary people become complicit in their own exploitation?
Reframing disaster relief through the lens of social reproduction, Peer Illner tracks the shifts in American emergency aid, from the economic crises of the 1970s to the Covid-19 pandemic, raising difficult questions about mutual aid's double-edged role in cuts to social spending. As sea levels rise, climate change worsens and new pandemics sweep the globe, Illner's analysis of the interrelations between the state, the market and grassroots initiatives will prove indispensable.
“A fascinating and insightful tale of how the state, increasingly unable and unwilling to care for its citizens, came to depend on community survival projects in the face of disaster. The book reminds us, with bracing political clarity, that as mutual aid movements become more and more urgent, they must more and more urgently set themselves against the state and capital.” – Joshua Clover, author of Riot. Strike. Riot
“A searching enquiry into the social production of vulnerability to ‘natural’ disasters, keyed to our age of pandemics and climate catastrophe”. – Gareth Dale, author of Karl Polanyi: A Life on the Left
Book Launch: Disasters and Social Reproduction. Historical Materialism Conference, London
Book Launch, Disasters and Social Reproduction. Goethe Universität Frankfurt
Pluto Live, SRT and Political Strategy with Peer Illner, Aaron Jaffe & Tithi Bhattacharya
Krise und Gesellschaft, eine Katastrophengeschichte. Goethe Lectures, Klingspor Museum Offenbach