Disrupting Risk Governance? A Post-Disaster Politics of Inclusion in the Urban Margins

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

Disrupting Risk Governance? A Post-Disaster Politics of Inclusion in the Urban Margins


  • Ricardo Fuentealba Department of Human Geography, Planning and International Development, Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Hebe Verrest Department of Human Geography, Planning and International Development, Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands


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Abstract:  Facing climate emergency and disaster risks, cities are developing governing arrangements towards sustainability and resilience. Research is showing the ambivalent results of these arrangements in terms of inclusion and (in)justice, as well as their outcomes in emptying the ‘properly political’ through depoliticised governing techniques. Acknowledging this post-political thesis, however, critical analyses must also engage with re-politicization and focus on disruptive and transformative governance efforts. This article addresses the dual dynamics of de—and re-politicisation, focusing on the interplay of different modes of governing urban risk. We follow the political philosophy of Jacques Rancière and related interpretations in critical urban studies to recover the politics of the city. We focus on a post-disaster area in the foothills of Santiago, Chile. After a 1993 disaster, the State constituted a mode of governing risks based on physicalist interventions that discouraged local conflicts. This techno-managerial policing order made risks invisible while favouring real estate development. However, we show how local initiatives emerge in the interstices of formal and informal arrangements that contest this course. This emerging mode of governing risk, we argue, has the potential to recover incrementally urban politics and disrupt the dominant one through an egalitarian principle on the margins. Our contribution shows that, although these modes of governance coexist and are still evolving, advancing more just and inclusive cities require moving beyond consensus-based governance and focusing on the role of dissent and disruptive politics.

Keywords:  inclusive cities; Jacques Rancière; post-disaster; risk management; urban governance; urban politics

Published:   31 August 2020


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/up.v5i3.3210


© Ricardo Fuentealba, Hebe Verrest. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.