We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

The uneven distribution of futurity: Slow emergencies and the event of COVID-19

Grove, K. and Rickards, L. and Anderson, B. and Kearnes, M. (2021) 'The uneven distribution of futurity: Slow emergencies and the event of COVID-19.', Geographical Research .


The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic strains conventional temporal imaginaries through which emergencies are typically understood and governed. Rather than a transparent and linear temporality, which envisions a smooth transition across the series event/disruption-response-post-event recovery, the pandemic moves in fits and starts, blurring the boundary between the normal and the emergency. This distended temporality brings into sharp relief other slow emergencies such as racism, poverty, biodiversity loss, and climate change, which inflect how the pandemic is known and governed as an emergency. In this article, we reflect on COVID-19 response in two settler colonial societies—Australia and the United States—to consider how distinct styles of pandemic response in each context resonates and dissonates across the racially uneven distribution of futurity that structures liberal order. While in each case the event of COVID-19 has indeed opened a window that reveals multiple slow emergencies, in these and other responses this revelation is not leading to meaningful change to address underlying forms of structural violence. In Australia and the United States, we see how specific slow emergencies—human induced climate change and anti-Black violence in White supremacist societies respectively—become intensified as liberal order recalibrates itself in response to the event of COVID-19.

Item Type:Article
Full text:Publisher-imposed embargo
(AM) Accepted Manuscript
File format - PDF
Publisher Web site:
Date accepted:04 July 2021
Date deposited:18 August 2021
Date of first online publication:2021
Date first made open access:No date available

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar