Building for Collapse: Doomsday Bunkers as Temporal Transport

Free Public Lecture

Building for Collapse: Doomsday Bunkers as Temporal Transport

Theatre 2, Basement Level
207 Bouverie Street
207 Bouverie Street

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T: 8344 9395

jmcook@unimelb.edu.au

A fresh iteration of an old architectural form is emerging across the world: the bunker is once again fashionable. Contemporary bunkers conjoin Cold War state ideologies of deep excavation in anticipation of wide-scale human-induced disaster with notions of sustainability and techno-fetishism. This has ushered in new architectural forms such as the eco-fortress, the panic room, the hardened suburb and the soilscraper. At the core of each is the figure of the doomsday prepper. Preppers anticipate and actively attempt to adapt to an inevitable but unspecified impending calamity. I argue that contemporary prepper communities - with whom I have been conducting ethnographic research as part of my Sydney Fellowship - emerged from the merging of survivalist anti-state libertarian political philosophy and a Mormon communitarian eschatology, both responding to neoliberal capitalism. Whilst rooted in the Western United States, the prepper ideology now has global influence, refracting (strikingly in spatial and material terms) the extinction-level problems we are failing to address as a species. In the prepper ideology, which I call Chrysalism, adaptation supplants mitigation as a primary course of action. Thus, the bunker is more speculative than reactionary and more temporal than spatial. It is both an ark to cross through catastrophe and a womb from which to be reborn. The bunker may be back in style, but there’s nothing retrograde about this architecture of dread.

Presenter

  • Dr Bradley Garrett
    Dr Bradley Garrett, University of Sydney