From ‘normalcy’ to extreme context: the contribution of Elias Canetti to the understanding of risk dynamics
Keywords:Affect, Canetti, crowd, epistemic accident, extreme context, football-related disaster, virtual terrorism
The article presents the case of Piazza San Carlo, Torino, 3rd June 2017. That evening, in the main square of Torino, large screens were showing the last act of the Champions League. Thousands of Juventus fans - about 30,000 in fact - were gathered there to attend the Juventus-Real Madrid match. The unhappy outcome of that cheery evening left 1,527 people injured and in need of rescue and two women who died later. It proposes a reading that mobilize the categories of crowd behavior, as set out by Elias Canetti, in order to discuss the occurrence of an epistemic incident that transforms a normal situation into an extreme context. In this example, we can see how the fear of terrorism causes real material effects and shapes the ‘phantom power’ of virtual terrorism. The case is first read as the effect of an epistemic accident in which a disruption happened and the status of common knowledge, collapsed. In the second place it is read through the concept of the transmission of affect which makes visible the embodiment of a crowd. The spreading of emotions depends upon their being given expressions by the deployment of all the senses.
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