In/security in the city in imagined scenarios of state absence: ‘prepping’ in the UK

Authors: Kezia Barker*, Birkbeck
Topics: Cultural Geography, Urban Geography, Hazards, Risks, and Disasters
Keywords: Security, preppers, urban, state, infrastructure
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 6:20 PM
Room: Balcony K, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Fears over catastrophic future events have prompted emergency preparedness activity at different scales, from the international to the individual (Anderson 2010; Barker 2012). ‘Preppers’ anticipate future catastrophes that would lead to the cessation of major services: the disembedding of everyday life from socio-material flows and infrastructural networks. They respond by stockpiling food, water, medicine and fuel; by securing places to shelter; and by developing survival and self-defence skills (Kabel and Chmidling 2014). In the imagination of ‘grid-down’ scenarios, the stateless city-without-infrastructure is rendered immoral and inhuman/e. It becomes a space to escape from or barricade out of the private home, just as the life-support systems that connect and maintain the distinction between public and private are ruptured. Combining online ethnography, indepth interviews and observant participation, the ongoing research on which this paper is based attends to the practices and perceptions of ‘preppers’ in the UK. The paper draws from their imaginaries of the city in ‘grid-down’ scenarios, to consider the perspective they bring to understandings of the relationship between the state, urban infrastructure and concepts of in/security.

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