Atmospheres of indagation: disasters and the politics of excessiveness


Manuel Tironi Rodó


The Sociological Review


Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile




This article examines how specific political arrangements are articulated to govern disasters. I suggest that disasters give rise to political experiments in which uncertainties are sensed, ordered and managed. I argue, however, that when the world is uncanny and indeterminacies are excessive and radically vital, the search for stability is messier than experimental politics might assume. Drawing on the cases of PRE Talca and Talca con Tod@s, two post-disaster participatory experiments that unfolded in Talca, Chile, I call atmospheres of indagation the expanded and enhanced political experimentalism unearthed by disasters. Of indagation because the inquiry was meticulous, open and agonically needed. And atmosphere because this indagation unfolded under the form of an overarching, multiform and ambiguous ambience in which everything could be explored, scrutinized and contested – including the experiments themselves. More concretely, I describe how these two experiments, via different participatory technologies, enacted different versions of Talca. But I attempt to show, as well, how PRE Talca and Talca con Tod@s were configured by openly contesting the principles and assumptions of each other. The result was a highly complex topological arrangement in which political publicness was expanded and re-articulated, thus defying conventional understandings on political experiments.


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