Watery Incursions: The Securitisation of Everyday “Flood Cultures” in Metro Manila and Coastal Jakarta
This article explores the normalisation of urban flooding through two distinct sets of securitised practices in two Southeast Asian megacities – localised disaster management surveillance regimes and the policing of informal settlements in Metro Manila and northern Jakarta, respectively. As a point of departure, we problematise the question of how the incidence of recurring floods (and flooding) is diversely interpreted as both event and as an experiential reality, insofar as the manifestation of the floods never entirely occupies a state of either normalcy or exception. It is this fluid state of inbetweenness in which these diverse securitisation trajectories are explored. The first entails the recent emergence of Metro Manila’s disaster Command Centres, marking a break from conventional ways of responding to flood risks. The second case study engages with Jakarta City’s coercive use of its municipal police unit – the Satpol P.P. – in relocating urban informal settlers who have otherwise actively learned to reshape their familiarity to flooding as a non-issue in order to avoid being evicted. While the paper reflects on the formal structures of flood cultures, we illustrate how vernacular interpretations around security entrenched in notions of “living with floods” lead to broader questions of ontological normalisation regarding watery incursions – as both spectacular as well as mundane, routinised events.