Disaster Anthropology

I’ve been keeping my Katrina coverage, which has been more political than anthropological, restricted to my own blog, but I see that antropologi.info has a good post about the anthropology of disaster, and other Katrina-related anthropology reports.

This isn’t a subject I know anything about, but if you have suggestions for a disaster anthropology reading list please leave them in the comments. (Ragout already suggested one such article in the comments to a previous post.)

I did begin collecting some articles about the impact of race and class on both the disaster and the media coverage afterwards. I think this is another area where anthropologists can offer some insights, as geographer Craig E. Colten did on NPR.

UPDATE: Here is Craig Colten’s web page, and his new book: An Unnatural Metropolis: Wresting New Orleans from Nature. From Amazon.com:

Colten shows how every manipulation of the environment made an impact on the city’s social geography as well—often with unequal, adverse consequences for minorities—and how each still requires maintenance and improvement today.

UPDATE: Here is a web site from the SSRC titled, “Understanding Katrina: Perspectives from the Social Sciences.” (Vis Anthropologi.info, where more links can be found.)

6 thoughts on “Disaster Anthropology

  1. I’m in the library right now and found two readers by Anthony Oliver-Smith (mentioned in my post you’ve linked to). The one is called “Catastrophe & Culture. The Anthropology of Disaster (2002), includes 11 articles, mostly anthropological case-studies. The other book is called “The Angry Earth. Disaster in Anthropological Perspective” (1999), with even more case studies by different anthropologists. I’ll start reading now and might post some excerpts / summaries later

  2. I am doing my proposal research on disaster, and I do need assistance on theory.

    Glad if anyone could give me inputs: any books/articles I should read.

    Thank you

  3. Mia:

    At the 2006 annual meeting of the Southern Anthropological Society, the keynote panel was on the Anthropology of Disasters. (Fittingly, the conference was held @ the University of West Florida in Pensacola – hurricane damage was all around us from a 2005 storm.) The panel featured three speakers. One was a provost who talked about UWF’s experience with evacuation and recovery. The other two would be more important to your research, but I can’t quite remember their names. One worked in Peru, and became a specialist on the anthropology of disasters because of an earthquake that took place at his dissertation fieldsite (sometime in the late 70s or 80s); the other was a woman at the University of New Orleans (she had done work mostly on vodou). Terry Prewitt from UWF may be a good person to contact about that panel.
    I should have properly archived the material from that conference so it would be more accessible (since I’m the webmaster); I will try to do so sometime.

  4. Mia:
    I apologize for not doing my homework prior to the above posting; the person I was trying think of is Anthony Oliver-Smith — who was already mentioned by Kerim above. It was a great paper, and I learned a lot from his talk.

  5. There is No Such Thing as a Natural Disaster, by Chester Hartman & Gregory D. Squires. I have many more too, but this is one of the most current & relevant.

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