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Tag Archives: Disaster



The ‘De-Naturalising Disasters’ workshop, is part of the ‘Living in the Anthropocene: Rethinking the Nature/Culture Divide’ series.

The event is convened by David Chandler (University of Westminster) and Camilla Royle (King’s College, London).

Further information is available here:
Date: Friday 18th September, 2015
Venue: Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster, Westminster Forum, 5th floor, 32-38 Wells Street, London, W1T 3UW (5 minutes walk from Oxford Circus tube station)
Time: 4.00pm-8.00pm

Programme: De-Naturalising Disasters

Introduction: Bruno Latour argues that we should love our ‘monsters’. Nothing illustrates this demand better than how disasters are becoming increasingly central to the political imagination. From the late Ulrich Beck’s views of ’emancipatory catastrophism’ to the UN Post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, disasters are becoming a subject of ethical care. Disasters are no longer excluded from politics and seen as external or natural events but are instead seen as enabling agents of political change. The United Nations, for example, is forwarding a new paradigm suggesting that disaster risk should be embedded within everyday governance and development processes and managed through taking responsibility for social and environmental outcomes. In this way, disasters – as outcomes of social processes – enable learning, reflection and potentially emancipatory outcomes. This workshop seeks to discuss how disasters have overcome the nature/culture divide and what is at stake in learning how to love them.

4.00-5.30 “Grand Strategies for Anthropocene Challenges: Can we Learn in Time?” Speaker: Jamie MacIntosh (Professorial Venture Research Fellow & Director of the Institute for Security & Resilience Studies, University College, London) Chair: David Chandler (University of Westminster)

The UK’s recently elected government has now revved up the Whitehall policy machine to distil the 2015 batch of strategies. Ministerial speeches and fanfares are not far off. The UK Government is one among many major and minor bodies that drafts strategies. There were 51 state signatories to the UN Charter in 1945; there are now 193 sovereign bodies. The financial power of several non-state bodies far exceeds that of many UN Leviathans. Nevertheless, after the post-Cold War unipolar moment and Washington Consensus, we are all – for better or worse – immersed in a multipolar world. Moreover, it’s a multipolar world that within a few years and decades will have to face up to the challenges of the Anthropocene with our productivity still flat and inequality growing. There is little evidence that we are developing healthy appetites for the systemic risks and radical uncertainties that abound. Whether you look to elites or the multitudes, the competencies, capabilities and capacity necessary for the species to make it to the 22nd Century cannot be taken for granted. Can we learn in time how to make grand strategies work or are they myths to numb the hapless? Do universities have anything pragmatic to offer?

5.30-6.00 break

6.00-7.30 “Can Disaster Risk Management be Emancipatory?” Speaker: Mark Pelling (Professor of Geography, Centre for Integrated Research on Risk and Resilience, King’s College, London) Chair: Camilla Royle (King’s College, London)

Disaster risk management science has a long critical tradition including work by Hewitt, Wisner and Watts. The advent of climate change adaptation has opened new policy relevance for disaster risk management, but without taking on board this critical viewpoint. The result has been an adaptation science framed around stability seeking. Resilience has come to symbolise this conservative vision for risk management. One response has been to call for Transformative Adaptation. The paper will examine the advent and rise of transformation and its current positioning in the emerging post-2015 development agenda.

7.30 wine reception

Many thanks,
David Chandler and Camilla Royle

David Chandler, Professor of International Relations, Director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Westminster, 32-38 Wells Street, London, W1T 3UW. Tel: ++44 (0)776 525 3073.
Journal Editor, Resilience: International Policies, Practices and Discourses:
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Twitter: @DavidCh27992090


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Japan Crisis


The Japan Society of Political Economy (JSPE)

Declaration on the Tohoku-Pacific Ocean Earthquake and Fukushima Nuclear Accident

The JSPE expresses its deep condolences to the victims of the Tohoku-Pacific Ocean Earthquake and the giant tsunami it triggered. We sympathize with those in the disaster area who are still in distress and appreciate the efforts of those engaged in the disaster response, relief, and recovery in that area. Further, we express our deep concern over the ongoing accident at the First Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, its spreading radioactive contamination, and the flaws in the present system of nuclear power plants that the accident has revealed.

The JSPE decided to devote a special plenary session to the problems raised by this disaster on the second morning of the 59th JSPE Annual Conference, which is to be held on September 17 and 18 at the Ikebukuro campus of the Rikkyo University, Tokyo (for details Yasuo Goto (Fukushima Univ.), Koji Morioka (Kansai Univ.), and Kiichiro Yagi (Setsunan Univ.) were nominated as its organizers. In the proposed plenary session we plan to discuss the problems jointly based on all the comments and proposals that are directed to the organizers of this session. We hope that this discussion will be a step toward the realization of a new concept in the activities of JSPE. We therefore welcome all opinions presented in the spirit of social science, from members as well as non-members, for this special plenary session. Please send your opinion within 200 to 400 words to the JSPE ( by 10 June.

Even though the scale of the earthquake was well beyond anything anticipated, we as social scientists cannot set our judgment aside by saying that this was an “unprecedented natural disaster.” Concerning the temblor alone, a series of questions promptly emerges: Was sufficient forecasting, warning and prevention provided? Wasn’t a more effective relief system that would have avoided the loss of information at the early stage possible? What was the reason for the vulnerability of the lifeline revealed by this disaster? Has an appropriate system of aid and recovery been established? What form should the economic support for relief, maintenance and recovery take? As for the accident at the nuclear power plant in particular, we cannot avoid asking whether the system and policies that have promoted the use of nuclear energy thus far lie behind the occurrence of the disaster and the apparent delay and helplessness in efforts to deal with it. Nuclear energy policy in Japan has been promoted by a closed circle of the government and the so-called “atomic lobby” of politicians, agents of the atomic energy industry including certain scientists and journalists. Along with the measures taken for disaster prevention and response, the system of policy formation as well should be placed under comprehensive and critical examination. Further, we need plans for the maintenance of industry and daily life under the current condition of electric power shortage, for recovery and its concomitant economic burdens, as well as the future renovation of our industrial economy and finances.

As the Japanese term for economy, or keizai, was derived from a classic term for “managing society and salvaging the life of the people” (keisei saimin), political economy as a discipline is concerned with relieving society and the lives of each of its members from distress and restoring their stability. Political economy as a social science emerged when this task shifted from being one of the arts of rule to a constituent of the self-knowledge of civil society. We believe that all of the researchers who together make up the JSPE are in accord in seeking to deal with this disaster from the viewpoint of social scientists, and to consider the problems associated with this disaster as significant challenges for the development of the theory of political economy.

Executive Board of the Japan Society of Political Economy
April 16, 2011

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