Catastrophe and Culture: The Anthropology of Disaster / Edition 1

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At a time of increasing globalization and worldwide vulnerability, the study of disasters has become an important focus for anthropological research. Disasters and their aftermaths affect all dimensions of a community's social structures as well as its relations with its environment. They both reveal and become an expression of the complex interactions of physical, biological and sociocultural systems. Disasters not only manifest the interconnections of these three factors but also expose their operations in the material and cultural worlds. Using a variety of natural and technological events, including Mexican earthquakes, drought in the Andes and in Africa, the nuclear accident at Chernobyl, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the Oaklands firestorm, and theBhopal gas disaster, the authors of this volume explore the potentials of disaster for the ecological, political-economic, and cultural approaches to anthropology, along with the perspectives of archaeology and history. They also discuss the connection between theory and practice and what anthropology can do for disaster management, particularly regarding the moral issue of aid. As anthropology entails a comprehensive format shared by no other social science , the editors write, it can - and well should - take a place at the centre of disaster theory research and practice .

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Editorial Reviews

After an introductory chapter by the editors exploring why anthropologists should study disaster, ten contributions based on work presented at a School of American Research seminar (October 1997, Santa Fe, New Mexico) explore various aspects of how disasters happen and their impact on a community's social structures and relationship to the environment. Referring to a variety of natural and technological disasters (Chernobyl, , Bhopal gas disaster, drought in the Andes and in Africa, Mexican earthquakes), they examine the potential for anthropological investigation in this realm, as well as possibilities for how anthropology can contribute to disaster management. The contributors are affiliated with anthopology departments at universities in the US (and one each from Canada and Mexico); editor Hoffman is an independent researcher and Oliver-Smith is with the U. of Florida. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781930618152
  • Publisher: School for Advanced Research Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/2002
  • Series: Advanced Seminar Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 316
  • Sales rank: 932,723
  • Product dimensions: 8.90 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables
Map 2
1 Introduction: Why Anthropologists Should Study Disasters 3
2 Theorizing Disasters: Nature, Power, and Culture 23
3 Historical Disaster Research 49
4 Danger and the No-Risk Thesis 67
5 Bounding Uncertainty: The Post-Chernobyl Culture of Radiation Protection Experts 91
6 The Monster and the Mother: The Symbolism of Disaster 113
7 Popular Media Reframing of Man-Made Disasters: A Cautionary Tale 143
8 Punctuated Entropy as Culture-Induced Change: The Case of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill 159
9 Modeling Protracted Drought, Collateral Natural Disaster, and Human Responses in the Andes 187
10 Impact of and Response to Drought among Turkana Pastoralists: Implications for Anthropological Theory and Hazards Research 213
11 Missing Expertise, Categorical Politics, and Chronic Disasters: The Case of Bhopal 237
References 261
Index 293
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