The 1984 explosion of the Union Carbide chemical plant in Bhopal, India was undisputedly one of the world's worst industrial disasters. Some have argued that the resulting litigation provided an "innovative model" for dealing with the global distribution of technological risk; others consider the disaster a turning point in environmental legislation; still others argue that Bhopal is what globalization looks like on the ground.
Kim Fortun explores these claims by focusing on the dynamics and paradoxes of advocacy in competing power domains. She moves from hospitals in India to meetings with lawyers, corporate executives, and environmental justice activists in the United States to show how the disaster and its effects remain with us. Spiraling outward from the victims' stories, the innovative narrative sheds light on the way advocacy works within a complex global system, calling into question conventional notions of responsibility and ethical conduct. Revealing the hopes and frustrations of advocacy, this moving work also counters the tendency to think of Bhopal as an isolated incident that "can't happen here."
Despite the devastation caused by the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and 60-foot tsunami that struck Japan in 2011, some 96% of those living and working in the most disaster-stricken region of Tōhoku made it through. Smaller earthquakes and tsunamis have killed far more people in nearby China and India. What accounts for the exceptionally high survival rate? And why is it that some towns and cities in the Tōhoku region have built back more quickly than others?
Black Wave illuminates two critical factors that had a direct influence on why survival rates varied so much across the Tōhoku region following the 3/11 disasters and why the rebuilding process has also not moved in lockstep across the region. Individuals and communities with stronger networks and better governance, Daniel P. Aldrich shows, had higher survival rates and accelerated recoveries. Less-connected communities with fewer such ties faced harder recovery processes and lower survival rates. Beyond the individual and neighborhood levels of survival and recovery, the rebuilding process has varied greatly, as some towns and cities have sought to work independently on rebuilding plans, ignoring recommendations from the national government and moving quickly to institute their own visions, while others have followed the guidelines offered by Tokyo-based bureaucrats for economic development and rebuilding.
Each year, natural disasters threaten the strength and stability of communities worldwide. Yet responses to the challenges of recovery vary greatly and in ways that aren’t explained by the magnitude of the catastrophe or the amount of aid provided by national governments or the international community. The difference between resilience and disrepair, as Daniel P. Aldrich shows, lies in the depth of communities’ social capital.
Building Resilience highlights the critical role of social capital in the ability of a community to withstand disaster and rebuild both the infrastructure and the ties that are at the foundation of any community. Aldrich examines the post-disaster responses of four distinct communities—Tokyo following the 1923 earthquake, Kobe after the 1995 earthquake, Tamil Nadu after the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, and New Orleans post-Katrina—and finds that those with robust social networks were better able to coordinate recovery. In addition to quickly disseminating information and financial and physical assistance, communities with an abundance of social capital were able to minimize the migration of people and valuable resources out of the area.
With governments increasingly overstretched and natural disasters likely to increase in frequency and intensity, a thorough understanding of what contributes to efficient reconstruction is more important than ever. Building Resilience underscores a critical component of an effective response.
Richard A Gould University of Utah Press, 2007 Library of Congress GN69.8.G68 2007 | Dewey Decimal 599.9
Unlike traditional archaeology, which studies the human past and examines issues of scholarly and popular interest, disaster archaeology is about the aftermath of mass-fatality events and deals with urgent needs such as victim identification and scene investigation. In this context, archaeological skills are an instrument of recovery for the families and others affected by a disaster.
This methodology involves a humanitarian element that often motivates archaeologists to perform this emotionally difficult work, and it requires a commitment to scientifically controlled field recovery and documentation of human remains, personal effects, and other physical evidence. First-hand experiences are described from the World Trade Center, 'The Station' nightclub fire in Rhode Island, and from Hurricane Katrina.
Disaster archaeology involves the meticulous, empirical use of archaeological science as well as emotional sensitivity toward victims and victims’ family and friends. By combining standards of forensic science with state-of-the-art field techniques, archaeologists can decisively affect the outcome of post-disaster investigations and recoveries.
In a cemetery on the southern outskirts of Paris lie the bodies of nearly a hundred of what some have called the first casualties of global climate change. They were the so-called abandoned victims of the worst natural disaster in French history, the devastating heat wave that struck in August 2003, leaving 15,000 dead. They died alone in Paris and its suburbs, and were then buried at public expense, their bodies unclaimed. They died, and to a great extent lived, unnoticed by their neighbors--their bodies undiscovered in some cases until weeks after their deaths.
Fatal Isolation tells the stories of these victims and the catastrophe that took their lives. It explores the multiple narratives of disaster--the official story of the crisis and its aftermath, as presented by the media and the state; the life stories of the individual victims, which both illuminate and challenge the ways we typically perceive natural disasters; and the scientific understandings of disaster and its management. Fatal Isolation is both a social history of risk and vulnerability in the urban landscape and a story of how a city copes with emerging threats and sudden, dramatic change.
On January 9, 2014, residents across Charleston, West Virginia, awoke to an unusual licorice smell in the air and a similar taste in the public drinking water. That evening residents were informed the tap water in tens of thousands of homes, hundreds of businesses, and dozens of schools and hospitals—the water made available to as many as 300,000 citizens in a nine-county region—had been contaminated with a chemical used for cleaning crushed coal.
This book tells a particular set of stories about that chemical spill and its aftermath, an unfolding water crisis that would lead to months, even years, of fear and distrust. It is both oral history and collaborative ethnography, jointly conceptualized, researched, and written by people—more than fifty in all—across various positions in academia and local communities. I’m Afraid of That Water foregrounds the ongoing concerns of West Virginians (and people in comparable situations in places like Flint, Michigan) confronted by the problem of contamination, where thresholds for official safety may be crossed, but a genuine return to normality is elusive.
In AD 79, Mt. Vesuvius erupted in two stages. While the first stage was incredibly destructive, it was the second stage, a so-called pyroclastic flow, that inundated Pompeii with a combination of superheated gases, pumice, and rocks, killing tens of thousands of people and animals and burying them in ash and mud.
During excavations of the town in 1863, Giuseppe Fiorelli, the director of the dig, poured plaster of paris into a cavity under the soil revealed by a workman's pick. When the plaster set and the mound was uncovered, all were amazed to see the secret that the ground had held for 1,800 years: a detailed cast of an ancient Pompeian such as no one had seen before, frozen in the instant of dying and complete in every respect, including outlines of the clothes he was wearing at the time of the destruction. The bodies, photographed and exhibited in the specially built Pompeii Museum, completely changed the world's ideas of life in ancient Italy.
Pompeii's Living Statues is a narrative account, supported by contemporary documents, of the remarkable discovery of those ancient victims preserved in the volcanic mud of Vesuvius.
Eugene Dwyer examines these casts and related records, the originals of a number of which (along with their museum) were lost in World War II bombing. As he considers the casts as archaeological and cultural pieces, he also discusses Pompeii and its artifacts in the context of Italian unification and party politics, the development of modern excavation methods, and the challenges of maintaining a very large archaeological site. Dwyer's clear organization and writing style, combined with a collection of photographs and engravings, make for a fascinating exploration of Pompeii and its victims.
During the winter of 1846–1847, members of the Donner Party found themselves stuck in the snows of the Sierra Nevada on their journey to California, losing many in their group to severe cold and starvation. Those who survived did so by cannibalizing their dead comrades. Today the Donner Party may be the most famous of American overland emigrant groups, but it was not the only one to face extreme conditions. Ten years after the Donner Party, two groups sponsored by the Mormon Church, the Willie and Martin handcart companies ran into similar difficulties. Unlike the Donner Party, however, these people were following a well-traveled path, but they were doing it in a novel way—pushing and pulling their goods and children in handcarts some 1,300 miles from Iowa to Utah. Caught in early winter storms in Wyoming, 200 members of these two companies died along the trail.
The plights of these emigrant groups have been addressed by different historians in different ways; this book is the first to examine the tragedies in terms of biology. Grayson shows that who lived or died can largely be explained by age, sex, and family ties. His investigation reveals what happens when our cultural mechanisms for dealing with famine and extreme cold are reduced to only what our bodies can provide within structured social contexts. His results are surprising and not always intuitive as he investigates who survived in these life threatening situations.