Crisis: Critique, Temporality, and Trauma

  • Alen Toplišek
Part of the The Theories, Concepts and Practices of Democracy book series (PSTCD)


In this chapter, the author explores the possibility and conditions for resistance to neoliberal governmentality by conceptually unpacking the notion of crisis. After critically analysing the different conceptions of crisis in business and management studies, international relations, and Marxism, this chapter proceeds to examine whether the alignment of critique, the temporality of crisis, and the trauma of socio-political violence can provide sufficient ground for the emergence of resistant subjectivities. Through critical engagement with the theoretical writings of Hannah Arendt, Judith Butler, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Derrida, the author uncovers the transgressive and reflective qualities of critique in times of crisis, the suspension of old ways of reasoning that the suddenness of crisis provokes and the trauma that its consequences can inflict.


  1. Arendt, Hannah. 1958. The Human Condition. Republished, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1998.Google Scholar
  2. ———. 2005. The Promise of Politics. New York: Schocken Books.Google Scholar
  3. ———. 2006. Between Past and Future. London: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  4. Baker, Dean. 2002. The Run-Up in Home Prices: Is It Real or Is It Another Bubble? Center for Economic and Policy Research, Briefing Paper. Available at: 1 Sept 2016.
  5. Baudrillard, Jean. 1993. Symbolic Exchange and Death. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  6. ———. 1994. Simulacra and Simulation. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  7. Beams, Nick. 2004. Greenspan Testimony Points to Deepening US Fiscal Crisis. World Socialist Web Site, February 16. Available at: 1 Sept 2016.
  8. ———. 2007. US Housing Crisis Could Spark Serious Economic Downturn. World Socialist Web Site, September 3. Available at: 1 Sept 2016.
  9. Beck, Ulrich, and Cristoph Lau. 2005. Second Modernity as a Research Agenda: Theoretical and Empirical Explorations in the Meta-Change of Modern Society. British Journal of Sociology 56 (4): 525–555.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Benhabib, Seyla. 1986. Critique, Norm and Utopia. A Study of the Foundations of Critical Theory. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Berger, Roni. 2015. Stress, Trauma, and Posttraumatic Growth: Social Context, Environment, and Identities. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Borradori, Giovanna. 2003. Philosophy in a Time of Terror: Dialogues with Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida. Chicago: University of Chicago.Google Scholar
  13. Brenner, Neil, Jamie Peck, and Nik Theodore. 2010. After Neoliberalization? Globalizations 7 (3): 327–345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Butler, Judith. 2001. What Is Critique? An Essay on Foucault’s Virtue. EIPCP Multilingual Webjournal. Available at: 15 Nov 2013.
  15. Chandler, David. 2012. Resilience and Human Security: The Post-interventionist Paradigm. Security Dialogue 43 (3): 213–229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Choo, Chun Wei, and Nick Bontis, eds. 2002. The Strategic Management of Intellectual Capital and Organizational Knowledge. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Clarke, Simon. 1994. Marx’s Theory of Crisis. Basingstoke: The Macmillan Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Congleton, Roger D. 2004. The Political Economy of Crisis Management: Surprise, Urgency, and Mistakes in Political Decision Making. Advances in Austrian Economics 8: 183–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. ———. 2011. Coping with Unpleasant Surprises in a Complex World: Is Rational Choice Possible in a World with Positive Information Costs? Center for Interdisciplinary Economics Discussion Paper 6/2011. Available at: 25 Aug 2016.
  20. Cordero, Rodrigo. 2014. Crisis and Critique in Jürgen Habermas’s Social Theory. European Journal of Social Theory 17 (4): 497–515.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Davis, Bob. 2009. What’s a Global Recession? The Wall Street Journal, April 22. Available at: 13 Feb 2018.
  22. della Porta, Donatella. 2015. Social Movements in Times of Austerity: Bringing Capitalism Back into Protest Analysis. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  23. Derrida, Jacques. 1992. Force of Law: The “Mystical Foundation of Authority”. In Deconstruction and the Possibility of Justice, ed. Drucilla Cornell, Michel Rosenfeld, and David Gray Carlson, 3–67. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  24. ———. 1995. The Gift of Death. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  25. ———. 2002. Negotiations: Interventions and Interviews, 1971–2001. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  26. ———. 2005. The Politics of Friendship. London: Verso Books.Google Scholar
  27. ———. 2007. A Certain Impossible Possibility of Saying the Event. Critical Inquiry 33 (2): 441–461.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Dunn, Robert G. 2008. Identifying Consumption: Subjects and Objects in Consumer Society. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Elliott, Larry. 2012. Three Myths that Sustain the Economic Crisis. The Guardian, August 5. Available at: 31 Mar 2014.
  30. Evans, Brad, and Julian Reid. 2014. Resilient Life: The Art of Living Dangerously. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  31. Foster, John Bellamy, and Fred Magdoff. 2009. The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences. New York: Monthly Review Press.Google Scholar
  32. Foucault, Michel. 1972. The Archaeology of Knowledge. Reprinted, London: Routledge, 2001.Google Scholar
  33. ———. 1991. Questions of Method. In The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality, ed. Graham Burchell, Colin Gordon, and Peter Miller, 73–86. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  34. ———. 1997. The Politics of Truth. New York: Semiotext(e).Google Scholar
  35. ———. 2008. The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1978–1979. Ed. Michel Senellart. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  36. Gilpin, Dawn R., and Priscilla J. Murphy. 2008. Crisis Management in a Complex World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Habermas, Jürgen. 1990. The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  38. ———. 2001. Conceptions of Modernity: A Look Back at Two Traditions. In The Postnational Constellation: Political Essays, ed. Max Pensky, 130–156. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  39. Heath, Robert L. 2012. Crisis Communication: Defining the Beast and De-marginalizing Key Publics. In The Handbook of Crisis Communication, ed. W. Timothy Coombs and Sherry J. Holladay, 1–13. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
  40. Hessel, Stéphane. 2010. Indignez-vous! Montpellier: Indigène éditions.Google Scholar
  41. Hutchings, Kimberly. 1996. Kant, Critique and Politics. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  42. Koselleck, Reinhart. 2002. The Practice of Conceptual History: Timing History, Spacing Concepts. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Latour, Bruno. 2004. Why Has Critique Run Out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern. Critical Inquiry 30 (2): 225–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Lebowitz, Michael A. 2009. Following Marx: Method, Critique and Crisis. Leiden: Brill.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Lorey, Isabell. 2011. Governmental Precarization. EIPCP Multilingual Webjournal. Available at: 27 Aug 2014.
  46. Malabou, Catherine. 2012. The New Wounded: From Neurosis to Brain Damage. New York: Fordham University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. 1959. Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. Vol. III. London: Lawrence & Wishart.Google Scholar
  48. Miyazaki, Yusuke. 2011. Responsibility of Making Decisions Without Decisionism: From Carl Schmitt to Jacques Derrida. In Glauben und Wissen in der Geistesgeschichte, ed. Kurihara Takashi, 140–155. Niigata: Graduate School of Modern Society and Culture, Niigata University.Google Scholar
  49. Neilson, Brett, and Ned Rossiter. 2005. From Precarity to Precariousness and Back Again: Labour, Life and Unstable Networks. The Fibreculture Journal 5. Available at: 2 Sept 2016.
  50. Polanyi, Karl. 2001. The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  51. Quine, Willard Van Orman. 1966. The Ways of Paradox and Other Essays. New York: Random House Publishers.Google Scholar
  52. Quiros, Laura, and Roni Berger. 2015. Responding to the Sociopolitical Complexity of Trauma: An Integration of Theory and Practice. Journal of Loss and Trauma 20 (2): 149–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Reynolds, Jack. 2004a. Decision. In Understanding Derrida, ed. Jack Reynolds and Jonathan Roffe, 46–53. London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  54. ———. 2004b. Merleau-Ponty and Derrida: Intertwining Embodiment and Alterity. Athens: Ohio University Press.Google Scholar
  55. Roitman, Janet. 2009. Crisis – Political Concepts: A Critical Lexicon. Available at: 14 Nov 2013.
  56. Schmitt, Carl. 1985. Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  57. Schumpeter, Joseph. 2010. Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. London/New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Stavrakakis, Yannis. 2007. The Lacanian Left: Psychoanalysis, Theory, Politics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Uco, César. 2005. Is the US Housing Boom Turning Toward Bust? World Socialist Web Site, August 6. Available at: 1 Sept 2016.
  60. Ulmer, Robert R., Timothy L. Sellnow, and Matthew W. Seeger. 2010. Effective Crisis Communication: Moving From Crisis to Opportunity. London: SAGE Publications.Google Scholar
  61. UNISDR. 2015. Making Cities Resilient. Available at: 21 Sept 2015.
  62. Venette, Steven J. 2008. Risk as an Inherent Element in the Study of Crisis Communication. Southern Communication Journal 73 (3): 197–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Wilson, Japhy. 2014. The Economics of Anxiety: Neoliberalism as Obsessional Neurosis. openDemocracy, June 6. Available at: 28 July 2015.
  64. Wolf, Martin. 2014. The Shifts and the Shocks: What We’ve Learned – and Have Still to Learn – From the Financial Crisis. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  65. Wolff, Stefan, and Christalla Yakinthou. 2012. Conflict Management in Divided Societies. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  66. Žižek, Slavoj. 2011. Living in the End Times. London: Verso.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alen Toplišek
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Politics and International StudiesSOAS University of LondonLondonUK

Personalised recommendations