Dangerously exposed: the life and death of the resilient subject

Bradley Evans, Julian Reid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


What does it mean to live dangerously? This is not just a philosophical question or ethical call to reflect upon our own individual recklessness. It is a deeply political question being asked by ideologues and policy makers who want us to abandon the dream of ever achieving security and embrace danger as a condition of possibility for life in the future. As this article demonstrates, this belief in the necessity and positivity of human exposure to danger is fundamental to the new doctrine of ‘resilience’. Resilience demands our disavowal of any belief in the possibility to secure ourselves and accept that life is a permanent process of continual adaptation to dangers said to be outside our control. The resilient subject is a subject which must permanently struggle to accommodate itself to the world, and not a subject which can conceive of changing the world, its structure and conditions of possibility. However, it is a subject which accepts the dangerousness of the world it lives in as a condition for partaking of that world and which accepts the necessity of the injunction to change itself in correspondence with threats now presupposed as endemic. This is less than acceptable. Not only is it politically catastrophic, it is fundamentally nihilistic. Identifying resilience as a nihilism that forces the subject to wilfully abandon the political, we argue for a wholesale rethinking of the question of what a politics of life is and can be.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-98
JournalResilience: international policies, practices and discourses
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2013


  • Resilience
  • Danger
  • Security
  • life
  • liberalism
  • Vulnerability


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