American Ethnologist

A pre-event configuration for biological threats: Preparedness and the constitution of biosecurity events

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ABSTRACT

Drawing on an inquiry into Israel's preparedness for biological threats, in this article I suggest a new analysis of biosecurity events. A complex and dynamic assemblage emerges to prepare for biological threats, one that I call a “pre-event configuration.” The assemblage is composed of three core elements—the scientific element, the security element, and the public health element—each of which diagnoses threats and suggests appropriate solutions. This configuration also determines what will be perceived as an event for which preparation is needed and what will remain a nonevent. I maintain that the constitution of an event takes place beyond the actual time of its occurrence and is determined by the pre-event configuration in the “time of event.” Therefore, a comprehensive analysis of events should combine an examination of actual events and their aftermath with an inquiry into their potentialities as determined by the pre-event configuration. [biosecurity, preparedness, events, disasters]

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