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Robert Kirsch



Ph.D., Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought; Virginia Tech (2012)
M.A., Political Science, Virginia Tech (2008)
B.A., Political Science, St. John’s University (MN) (2004)

2017 -    Assistant Professor, Faculty of Leadership and Integrative Studies, Arizona State University
2019 -    Senior Global Futures Scholar, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory, Arizona State University

[Under contract] Kirsch, R. E. & Ray, E. (2022). Worst case scenario: The politics of prepping in America. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.
Kirsch, R. (2020). Manufacturing alienation in the Bakken: Toward a political economy of extraction. Theory & Event 23(1), 231-247.
Kirsch, R. (2019). You can’t handicraft the apocalypse: The invidious consequences of “opting out.” New Political Science, 41(4), 529-543.
Kirsch, R.E. (2020). Mumford and Bataille: Toward a political economy of energy consumption. In R.E. Kirsch (Ed.), Limits to Terrestrial Extraction. Routledge Focus Series on Environment and Sustainability. New York, NY: Routledge.
[In progress] From Tinkering to Hacking and the Rise of Neoliberalism.


The Politics of the Bunker and the Limits of Decentralization

This project focuses on the historical antecedents of the apocalyptic politics that feeds into bunkerization. It argues that doomsday prepping, apocalyptic politics, and the bunkerization of society are not in preparation for a single cataclysmic event or even represent a Millenarian yearning; rather, it shows how the apocalypse is a slow and unevenly distributed process that is wrapped up in material politics that register at the level of everyday life. This historical excavation is necessary because it shows that bunkerization is baked into the DNA of the current context, and is a mainstream rather than fringe phenomenon. One important vector this project explores is the history and potential of “opt-out” movements in advanced industrial society. While perhaps a way to individually manage anxiety about apocalyptic ruptures to the existing social order, this project argues it is politically impotent to attempt to lead a parallel everyday life alongside a given social order, if not functionally impossible. These movements often rely on an idealistic, inward-turning ethos that does not provide the basis for transformational politics. This intervention problematizes the republican virtues of small-scale intentional community building, by showing how historically these movements are quickly rendered irrelevant, or are absorbed into the existing order, making them counterproductive.

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Latest Revision: 2022-12-14
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