We live in a time of international polarisation, social breakdown and a deepening crisis of democratic representation. This crisis is all the more urgent given the political inertia it has revealed. The talk explores the emergence of ‘humanitarian design’ in the field of disaster management from the perspective of what it tells us about contemporary capitalism.
‘Humanitarian design’ denotes a growing celebratory interest in commercially supplied objects and platforms – from emergency shelter and therapeutic foods through to biometric tagging – designed to grant individuals a new freedom, that is, to survive off-grid amidst the ruined landscapes of modern disaster zones. If disasters are laboratories of the near future, what conclusions should we draw from these developments?

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