Governing through time: Preparing for future threats to health and security

Limor Samimian-Darash*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


During preparations for the Second Gulf War, Israel considered universal smallpox vaccination. In doing so, it faced a problem: how to legitimise carrying out a security action against an uncertain future danger (smallpox pandemic), when this action carried specific, known risks (vaccine complications). To solve this problem, the Israeli preparedness system created a new domain through which the security action could reach its goal with minimum risk: first responders (a group of medical personnel and security forces). First-responder vaccination represents a shift in the form of 'securing health' and in the governmental technology applied to this goal, in which past, present, and future occurrences are governed to enable the execution of a security action. Through this practice, risks are not located in the present or in the future but in a 'shared' temporal space and thus can be seen as existing simultaneously. Preparedness for emerging future biological events, then, involves more than questioning how the future is contingent on the present and how the present is contingent on the future's perception; it also recognises the need for a new time positioning that allows operating on both present and future risks simultaneously. Governing these risks, then, means governing through time.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)930-945
Number of pages16
JournalSociology of Health and Illness
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Preparedness
  • Risk
  • Security
  • Time
  • Vaccination


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