Researcher: Bradley Garrett
Prepping is a practice of anticipating and adapting to impending conditions of calamity, ranging from low-level crises to extinction-level events. The COVID-19 pandemic, which preppers consider a 'mid-level' event, and which many of them were well-prepared for, makes clear that scholarly attention to prepper's motivations and methods is both timely and valuable. Drawing from three-years of ethnographic research with preppers, this project tells the story of over a dozen private underground communities around the world. The research reveals that the media caricatures developed around prepping are undermined by fieldwork with groups that are politically, socially and ideologically diverse. The boltholes preppers are building in closed communities built to survive the collapse of society, order, and even the environment itself, refract the seemingly irresolvable problems we are failing to address as a species. In the prepper ideology, faith in adaptation has supplanted hope of mitigation, making contemporary bunkers more speculative than reactionary and more temporal than spatial. The bunkers preppers build are arks to cross through a likely (but often unspecified) catastrophe; they are a chrysalis from which to be reborn - potentially even into an improved milieu. During the current pandemic, many of us wonder what is on the other side. Preppers have an answer to that: it’s the post-apocalyptic world.
Project website: www.bradleygarrett.com/bunker
Funder: University of Sydney (Sydney Fellowship)