Risking the flood : cartographies of things to come
Munk, Anders Kristian
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Reflecting on fieldwork carried out in the UK insurance sector, the thesis explores the role played by various types of actuarial and hydrological expertise in the performance of flooding as a matter of sustained public concern. In doing so, the question is raised: what analytical status to give the concept of risk when accounting forthe epistemic doings involved in bringing yet unrealised future floods to bear on the present? Contrary to most other European countries the provision of flood insurance in the UK is left to the market and organised via an agreement under which insurers pledge to provide cover in areas protected by the Government to a standard of ~:?5 years (the average return period between floods). What should be taken into account when mapping out this ~:?5 year flood zone is subject to debates constantly revitalised by flood events with changing characteristics as well as new ways of modelling and anticipating what has yet to take place. How should we understand the knowledge claims hardwired into these debates through the involvement of actuarial and hydrological expertise? The thesis will argue that a reorientation of flood risk away from a status as the (multiple) object of these claims towards a status as an event in which a diverse variety of other things are brought into being (maps, futures, frequencies, anxieties, publics, geographies, things which are not necessarily very well understood as risk per se), will give rise to more productive and eventful questions. In the terminology of Isabelle Stengers, to risk is to create the possibility of bringing new things to life - the risking of floods seems to be constantly exciting such creativities.