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Modes of UncertaintyAnthropological Cases$
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Limor Samimian-Darash and Paul Rabinow

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226257075

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226257242.001.0001

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Spaces of Uncertainty

Spaces of Uncertainty

Governing Urban Environmental Hazards

Chapter:
(p.182) Chapter Ten Spaces of Uncertainty
Source:
Modes of Uncertainty
Author(s):

Austin Zeiderman

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226257242.003.0011

While uncertainty has long preoccupied attempts to plan, build, and govern cities, urbanists now assume that it has become a fundamental feature of the global urban condition. With the widespread notion that we now live in turbulent times—economically, politically, and ecologically—uncertainty has become normalized within urban theory, policy, and practice. As a result, urbanists now grapple with the challenge of reacting to varying degrees, as well as different categories, of uncertainty. Municipalities worldwide are experimenting with how to manage populations, events, and environments whose characteristics and behaviors cannot be known or foreseen. This chapter examines approaches to governing the uncertain future in Colombia, focusing specifically on their implementation in the self-built settlements on the periphery of Bogotá. It examines the designation of these spaces as “zones of high risk” and the everyday work performed by government officials responsible for determining the risk of landslides within them. Reflected in this policy is a technique of government that initially seeks to evaluate the likelihood of events and estimate potential damages throughout the city. However, an ethnographic approach reveals that, in practice, the field of intervention becomes a space of uncertainty that need not be measured to be managed.

Keywords:   cities, urban, space, risk, uncertainty, zoning, governance, environment, hazards, future

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