Gridlock: Vigilance and early warning in the shadow of climate change

Sarah Vaughn


This article examines how Guyana’s storm early warning system shapes political imaginaries of climate adaptation. Specifically, it focuses on the reactions people have to the forms of gridlock that can make intense flooding, and climate change more generally, feel like an insurmountable problem. As I detail throughout this article, gridlock is an object of intervention in the development, maintenance, and operations of the storm early warning system. The management of gridlock is synonymous with aspirations to make more consistent institutional arrangements of vigilance. But Civil Defense Commission staff and village residents run into difficulties making enhancements because gridlock unfolds across multiple historical tenses. That is, as they implement the storm early warning system, gridlock reveals itself as a product of past and ongoing governmental practices that permeate the present in ways that shape uncertainty about the future. In this respect, this article extends conversations in anthropological scholarship on anticipation around the different configurations of political time within contexts of climate change/risk and governance.

Full Text:


DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/715847