Mapping precariousness

The first part of a chapter, titled “Encoding the Law the Household and the Standardisation Of Uncertainty,” for an edited volume on mapping precariousness. 

Lots on social cartography, the history of labour market and related statistics (such as GDP) in France and beyond, Pitrou’s solidarités familiales, neo-Platonist phenomenology, Rosa Luxemburg versus Friedrich Hayek, complex systems theory, Alfred Korzybski, Laurent Thévenot,  Bachelard and classification. In many ways, this is me foregrounding the methodological aspects that informed earlier debates/writing on the topic — and why that topic became increasingly one about the metrics of risk and uncertainty.

[You can find a preprint of the chapter here]

All maps involve subtractions from complexity—a condition that is both crucial for readability and, at the same time, a procedure that tends toward essentialism and obsolescence. Moreover, maps were, and are, anticipatory. If not quite the performance, then the script. According to Harley’s notations in the margins of cartographic history, “lands [were] claimed on paper before they were effectively occupied.” That is, “maps anticipated empire. Surveyors marched alongside soldiers, initially mapping for reconnaissance, then for general information, and eventually as a tool of pacification, civilization, and exploitation in the defined colonies” (2001, 57). As logical systems, maps are therefore not so much representational artifacts as propositions (Wood 2010, 41). This is especially so where mapping links laws and objects by encoding the defined properties of the latter in such a way that they are amenable to normative statements. This is why the history of the map is also the history of the concept of precariousness. […]

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