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Mobile Disasters

Catastrophes in the Age of Manufactured Uncertainty

Steve Matthewman

natural hazards, rapid urbanization and the overconsumption of energy and natural resources threaten to drive risk to dangerous and unpredictable levels with systemic global impacts.” 7 All available evidence shows that disasters are increasing in

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Susann Baez Ullberg

Flooding in Santa Fe City On 29 April 2003, a disastrous flood occurred in the Argentinean city of Santa Fe. The disaster came to be called by the city’s inhabitants simply “the flood.” The Santafesinos were shocked by the catastrophe. Judging from

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Catherine O'Byrne

The Piper Alpha disaster remains the most significant event in the history of the British North Sea oil industry, yet despite a large range of scholarship on the topic women's experiences of the disaster have not been heard publicly. This article uses oral history testimony to add the private experiences of women who were affected by the disaster to the public experiences of men. The focus of the analysis is on the gendered and political nature of remembrance and the impact that women had on the way that Piper Alpha was commemorated and remembered.

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Dividing Worlds

Tsunamis, Seawalls, and Ontological Politics in Northeast Japan

Andrew Littlejohn

depended on (including the ocean itself). In Minamisanriku, a council of residents, which had been convened to discuss the town's recovery plans, accordingly wrote that they had “seen anew the limits of disaster prevention through hard infrastructure like

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Erin R. Eldridge

taken many forms over the past century in efforts to legitimize an industry wrought with disasters, falling employment levels, human suffering, violence, and widespread environmental destruction ( Eldridge 2015 ). It is only within the past decade

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Anatomy of a disaster

The neo-liberal state in Mumbai's 2005 flood

Judith Whitehead

This article discusses the networked forms of governance that have arisen as part of roll-out neo-liberal policies in Mumbai, India, focusing on the flood of 26 July 2005 and its aftermath. The municipal government's inaction during and after the flood is attributed to the decentralization of governance, as well as to cutbacks to public health and basic services in recent years. The rise of competitive urbanism as a part of roll-out neo-liberalism is analyzed as producing gaps in disaster management planning and implementation. The article concludes with a call for a refinanced state and a centralization of municipal bodies under a unified municipal council, seen as necessary to provide the professionalized services required during large-scale emergencies such as floods.

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Holly Thorpe

War, conflict, and natural disasters disrupt millions of lives around the world each year. With fighting and wars raging across the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Africa, and Asia, death tolls are “on the rise,” 1 and the United Nations recently

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Zuzana Hrdličková

disaster managers in India. The field of disaster management has rapidly expanded in the past three decades as the minimization of human losses due to natural disasters has become a focus of global and national policies. 1 It has commonalities with

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The Complete Story of the Galveston Horror

Trauma, History, and the Great Storm of 1900

Andy Horowitz

This article considers the lurid accounts of looting and lynching that circulated after the 1900 Galveston, Texas, hurricane, the deadliest storm in United States history. Previous accounts of the flood have tended to ignore or subsume these stories in narratives of heroic recovery and progress. But Galvestonians' fantasies of racial violence suggest that the specific catastrophe of the flood was part of the ongoing disaster of racial terror in Texas at the turn of the twentieth century. Understanding disaster as a chronic human process rather than an acute wound from nature reveals that, instead of allowing white Galvestonians to transcend their history of violence against African Americans, the storm seemed to authorize them to further enact and reenact the imposition of suffering.

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Virginia García-Acosta

*Full article is in French

English abstract: The concept of “social construction“ associated with risks has proved to be an increasingly useful analytical tool among disaster experts. However, as is natural with the creation and evolution of theoretical concepts to explain reality, it has acquired different meanings. This, in some cases, has generated some confusion in its use. This paper attempts to clarify some of the variations of the concept “social construction of risk“ by studying and reviewing its main usages and contents. In particular, it looks at the concept's association with perception and with vulnerability. It is basically a theoretical essay intended to help scholars who study disasters so they can use more fluently one of the concepts that will allow them to better comprehend the object of their studies.

Spanish abstract: El concepto de “construcción social“ asociado con los riesgos ha demostrado una utilidad analítica cada vez mayor entre los estudiosos de los desastres. Sin embargo, como es natural que ocurra en la generación y evolución de planteamientos teóricos para la interpretación de la realidad, se le han atribuido significados diversos. Lo anterior ha contribuido en algunos casos a confusiones en su utilización. Este ensayo pretende contribuir a esclarecer algunas de las variaciones en el uso del concepto “construcción social del riesgo“ por medio del estudio y revisión de los principales manejos y contenidos que se le han dado, particularmente dos de ellos: el que lo asocia con la percepción y el que lo hace con la vulnerabilidad. Se trata de un ensayo básicamente de corte teórico, cuyo objetivo último es aportar elementos para que los estudiosos de los desastres puedan disponer con mayor fluidez de uno de los conceptos que permitan comprender el objeto de su estudio con más destreza.

French abstract: Le concept de « construction sociale » associé aux risques a démontré une utilité grandissante en tant qu'outil d'analyse pour les spécialistes qui étudient les catastrophes. Toutefois, comme c'est le cas de tout processus naturel de création et de développement des approches théoriques qui servent à l'interprétation de la réalité, des significations diverses ont été données à ce concept. Ce e diversité a contribué dans certains cas à créer des confusions dans son utilisation. Le présent article éclaircit des variations du concept de construction sociale du risque par l'étude et la révision des principaux usages et contenus qui lui ont été donnés, dont deux en particulier : celui qui l'associe à la perception, et celui qui l'associe à la vulnérabilité. Cet essai a comme objectif d'offrir une réflexion de nature théorique sur l'utilisation d'un des concepts fréquemment utilisés par ceux qui s'adonnent à l'étude des catastrophes.