Aurélien Portelli: Surviving to the machines: coping with extreme situations in a context of industrial disaster and shipwreck
This lecture proposes to explain the logics at work in an extreme situation confronting humans to machines. This concept designates the collapse of the meanings instituted at the level of a group, after it has lost control of its production tool and when its members face imminent danger of death. Individuals in extreme situations are torn between the urgency to act and the material impossibility of action within established frameworks. To illustrate this concept, two cases will be presented to the public. The first will focus on the struggle of nuclear power plant workers facing a major nuclear accident. The second will evoke the drift of castaways on a raft confronted with extreme violence and extreme conditions of survival.
Aurélien Portelli holds a PhD in history and is a lecturer at the Centre de recherche sur les Risques et les Crises (CRC) at MINES ParisTech. His current research focuses on the analysis of the technical imaginary at work in high-risk industries.
Fig. above: Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, March 19, 2011 © TEPCO