How can the convergence of multiple cascading crises create a broader disruptive reality of ‘polycrisis’ in society? How do specific social groups and communities develop purposeful responses to the distinctive forms of insecurity and suffering generated by an enduring polycrisis? Through an exploration of multiple types of crises in a variety of geographical settings in Europe and the United Kingdom, the chapters compiled in this book offer fresh insight into how particular groups of people work to combat polycrises ‘from below’. Cumulatively, the chapters offer an interdisciplinary look at the notion of ‘crisis’ by considering how multiple kinds of crisis (ecology, health, economy, democracy, spirituality, etc.) intersect in concrete social settings to produce localized situations of polycrisis characterized by distinctive ‘geometries’ of crises within crises.
The first segment of the book offers some novel conceptual approaches to the inter-disciplinary study of crisis politics ‘from below’. The second part offers a thematically cohesive series of case studies that shed light on the question of how different sets of actors in particular settings across Europe and the United Kingdom have engaged with entrenched polycrisis. The cases range from single mothers, migrants and gentrifying neighbourhoods on the one hand, to social movement activists and new age spiritualist groups on the other.
Kai Heidemann (editor) is Assistant Professor of Sociology at University College Maastricht in the Netherlands
This book is the product of a series of academic workshops undertaken from 2018 to 2020 by a small group of scholars at Maastricht University (Netherlands) and the University of York (United Kingdom). Cantered on the theme “Geometries of Crisis”, these collaborations were sponsored by the York-Maastricht Partnership. This inter-university collaboration was launched in November 2017 as a way to establish strong working relations between the universities of York and Maastricht. It seeks to develop a lasting partnership built around excellence in research, teaching and knowledge exchange. Since its inception, the York-Maastricht Partnership has supported research across numerous projects related to ‘The Future of Europe’ and “The Global South” as well as “Data Science” and “Imaging”. In addition, the first joint education programme, an MSc in “Sustainable Business: Leadership, Innovation, and Management,” was successfully launched in 2021.
The universities in York and Maastricht have long valued the new perspectives and insights generated by international collaborations. Indeed, internationalism was a founding principle for both universities. With the UK’s departure from the European Union, however, the long tradition of scholarly exchange and movement across borders was facing disruption. The presidents of both universities thus wanted to be proactive in strengthening new and existing collaborations in teaching and research. The scholarly exchanges that underpin this book are exemplary of the productivity that the York-Maastricht Partnership seeks to support, not only in the creation of a fruitful cross-border collaboration, but also in the very important problems and topics that guided this collaborative exploration of the complex ‘geometry of crises’ afflicting our world today.
Katherine Benson, Acting Director York-Maastricht Partnership
The editor and contributing authors of this book are grateful for the material support provided by the York-Maastricht Partnership Fund. The funds provided through two grants created the unique opportunity for an initial series of international academic brainstorms and dialogues among scholars at Maastricht University (NL) and the University of York (UK). From these exchanges, the work was transformed into a more focused set of workshops, lectures and peer review sessions, which eventually led to the publication of this book. In addition, the editor and contributors would like to express their sincere gratitude for the assistance provided by Michel Saive, Ron Aardening and the team at Maastricht University Press, whose hard work played a big role in bringing this book to publication. We are grateful to Maastricht University Press for making this book available in open access format, and thus increasing its accessibility to a broader audience.
The editor would also like to express his personal gratitude to all of the contributing authors who showed tremendous patience and maintained their commitment on this project despite the many stutters and delays caused by the COVID pandemic. The editor sends out a very special thank you also to Sara de Jong who played an essential role in sparking the initial idea for this project during a thought-provoking conversation about the ‘crises within crises’ on a warm spring day in Maastricht way back in 2019.