School of Business and Economics


3 Nov 2015

Redefining ‘resilience’: Chris Zebrowski’s new book on the genealogy of resilience

Chris Zebrowski Dr Chris Zebrowski

Dr Chris Zebrowski, a Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at Loughborough University’s School of Business and Economics, has just published a new book entitled The Value of Resilience: Securing Life in the 21st Century.

The Value of Resilience, published by Routledge Press in their ‘Interventions’ series, situates the idea of resilience within the evolution of risk management and civil contingencies over the last century.

Zebrowski is part of the University's Secure and Resilient Societies Research Challenge, led by Professor Mark Freeman, and this new book fits in perfectly with the back story to the group's objectives. It is also the first book to critically examine resilience as a security value whose ascendance is radically re-defining the ways in which security is understood and practiced in the 21st Century.

Zebrowski’s theories are powerfully advanced through a rich empirical analysis of the history of emergency governance over the last century through analyses of UK civil contingencies, the Welfare State, civil defence and the rise of neoliberalism to demonstrate how the value of resilience has appreciated alongside transformations in the order of power/knowledge enacted by political economies of security. 

Resilience, Zebrowski argues, was not lying in wait for the march of science to provide the conditions for its recognition. Nor was it concealed by the distortions of ideology which lifted with the culmination of the Cold War. There is nothing natural about resilience.

Securities expert Mark Duffield, former Director of the Global Insecurities Centre and an Emeritus Professor at the University of Bristol, said of the book:

Chris Zebrowski’s brilliant book, The Value of Resilience, offers an analytically accomplished and historically informed critique of the seemingly benign idea of resilience. It unsettles the naturalness of this pervasive concept, tracing its origins from the emergency government measures of WW1 through to today’s preparations for an uncertain but potentially catastrophic future… [It] is essential reading for specialists and non-specialists alike.

Zebrowski explains:

By drawing attention to the complex historical process and significant governmental efforts required to make resilience possible, this book aims to open up a space through which the value of resilience may be more critically interrogated.

This book will be of interest to students and scholars of international relations, security studies and conflict resolution. 

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