Inventory of resources, references, ideas, brainstorming, etc. 


I would recommend looking at the idea of the state of nature from early modern political theory. The basic idea is that, given a situation without society/state, how and why do people come to agree to enter into a structured political community? You should take a look at some of the following:

This idea of the state of nature and the mechanism of the "social contract" as the means of moving into the state has been taken up by John Rawls: he calls it "the original position" and the "veil of ignorance." See his A Theory of Justice (chapter 1).

You might also consider looking at Robert Nozick's Anarchy, State, and Utopia for two reasons: (1) it began as a criticism of Rawls and (2) it is the foundational text of modern libertarianism. See chapters 1 and 2.

Regardless of how you go about describing the post-apocalyptic world, it will be necessary to discuss the foundations of the political community and the means through which it secures legitimacy.


Sara made an important point in her quick discussion in class: the idea of barter. Anthropologists have discussed primitive economies in great detail (I suspect you took this up in class, but I don't know). I think a good place to get started is around the idea of gifts and debt. 

It is a giant book, and somewhat controversial, but David Graeber's Debt: The First 5000 Years is a great place to start ( He discusses, in great detail, the origins of debt, interdependence, trade, and gifts. The most important essay in the history of anthropological economics is Marcel Mauss's The Gift.

A really interesting take on primitive societies can be found in Marshall Sahlins Stone Age Economics ( and Pierre Clastre's Society Against the State ( The basic argument here is that primitive societies are the only free societies that have ever existed and they are free because they are the only societies that meet the conditions of post-scarcity. All other social forms (including our own) are characterized by scarcity. These books could provide compelling arguments against developing large-scale post-apocalyptic societies.


Talking to Aalya after class, we discussed how, in many ways, the problems faced by the Occupy movement are more less the same as those that might be faced by survivors during the post-apocalypse. This is quite an interesting insight and it makes sense. To an extent, the Occupiers were responding to an apocalyptic event of sort (inequality, financial crisis) and were developing new social forms in a hostile environment (the police did not like them).

I have not read these books, but they seem like good starting places:


It might be worth giving some attention to the idea of utopia, if some version of utopia is a goal. Some recent books on the idea of utopia (which are not necessarily utopian) include:

The ScenarioEdit

Some time should be spent talking about the feasibility of the contagion that you are going with. Some places to look:

Social and PsychologicalEdit

Some attention must be paid to general affects on individual psychologies and social structures. By this I don't mean destruction and depression, but rather something more like post-traumatic stress disorder (or, as Colson Whitehead calls it in Zone One, post-apocalyptic stress disorder) and the idea of cultural trauma.