1st Edition

Disaster, Conflict and Society in Crises Everyday Politics of Crisis Response

Edited By Dorothea Hilhorst Copyright 2013
    304 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    304 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Humanitarian crises - resulting from conflict, natural disaster or political collapse – are usually perceived as a complete break from normality, spurring special emergency policies and interventions. In reality, there are many continuities and discontinuities between crisis and normality. What does this mean for our understanding of politics, aid, and local institutions during crises? This book examines this question from a sociological perspective. This book provides a qualitative inquiry into the social and political dynamics of local institutional response, international policy and aid interventions in crises caused by conflict or natural disaster.

    Emphasising the importance of everyday practices, this book qualitatively unravels the social and political working of policies, aid programmes and local institutions. The first part of the book deals with the social life of politics in crisis. Some of the questions raised are: What is the meaning of human security in practice? How do governments and other actors use crises to securitize – and hence depoliticize - their strategies? The second part of the book deals with the question how local institutions fare under and transform in response to crises. Conflicts and disasters are breakpoints of social order, with a considerable degree of chaos and disruption, but they are also marked by processes of continuity and re-ordering, or the creation of new institutions and linkages. This part of the book focuses on institutions varying from inter-ethnic marriage patterns in Sri Lanka to situation of institutional multiplicity in Angola. The final part of the book concerns the social and political realities of different domains of  interventions in crisis, including humanitarian aid, peace-building, disaster risk reduction and safety nets to address chronic food crises. 

    This book gives students and researchers in humanitarian studies, disaster studies, conflict and peace studies as well as humanitarian and military practitioners an invaluable wealth of case studies and unique political science analysis of the humanitarian studies field.

    1. Disaster, Conflict and Society in Crises: Everyday politics of crisis response Dorothea Hilhorst  2. Discourses of War, Peace and Peace-building in Sri Lanka Georg Frerks  3. The Political History of Disaster Management in Mozambique Luis Artur  4. The De-Disasterization of Food Crises: Structural reproduction or change in policy development and response options? A case study from Ethiopia Jan-Gerrit van Uffelen  5. The Politics of "Catastrophization" Jeroen Warner  6. Conflict, Governance and Institutional Multiplicity: Parallel governance in Kosovo and Chiapas (Mexico) Gemma van der Haar and Merel Heijke  7. Two Decades of Ordering Refugees: The development of institutional multiplicity in Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp Bram Jansen  8. Conflict Minerals in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): Planned interventions and unexpected outcomes Jeroen Cuvelier  9. Institutional Multiplicity in Post-conflict Reconstruction: The case of a local church in Bunjei, Angola Maliana Serrano  10. Flying Below the Radar: Inter-ethnic marriages in Sri Lanka’s war zone Timmo Gaasbeek 11. Humanitarian Space as Arena: A perspective on the everyday politics of aid Dorothea Hilhorst and Bram J. Jansen  12. The Politics of Peacebuilding through Strengthening Civil Society  Mathijs van Leeuwen  13. The Everyday Politics of Disaster Risk Reduction in Central Java, Indonesia Annelies Heijmans  14. Post-Conflict Recovery and Linking Relief, Rehabilitation and Development in Angola: From crisis to normality? Hilde van Dijkhorst  15. Doing good / Being Nice? Aid legitimacy and mutual imaging of aid workers and aid recipients. Dorothea Hilhorst, Gemma Andriessen, Lotte Kemkens and Loes Weijers


    Dorothea Hilhorst is Professor of Humanitarian Aid and Reconstruction at Wageningen University.

    This volume is a testament to how the study of disaster has come of age. It is a stimulating and innovative set of studies of the intersection of everyday politics with global issues including natural hazards, armed conflict and international assistance policy. Case studies from four continents and thematic chapters draw upon history, anthropology and political science, to integrate the understanding of governance, development and conflict. This book will be an important resource for students and practitioners alike.

    –Alex de Waal, World Peace Foundation at the Fletcher School, USA

    This is a very useful collection. Each chapter draws important theoretical and policy conclusions from granular ethnographic cases. Together, they unravel a variety of ways that people and institutions engage effectively (or not) to frame and overcome the challenges of survival and governance in disaster, conflict and post-conflict crises.

    –Hugo Slim, University of Oxford, UK

    Disaster, Conflict and Society in Crises is a timely, important and thematically diverse anthology that brings a holistic perspective to the study of international interventions. It covers policy and practice in the humanitarian arena, and offers a rich array of analysis. Both, academics and practitioners will find much to stimulate their thinking in this book.

    –Sultan Barakat, University of York, UK

    Dorothea Hilhorst tells us this book describes the everyday politics of disasters, but it does far more than that. It gets right down into the weeds of the way disasters and crises change society and people’s lives. It delves into the ebb and flow of local power, the ways in which governance changes, and how love and deep relationships are shaped. This book provides a beautifully human portrayal of disasters, but with all the rigor of science.

    –Peter Walker, Tufts University, USA

    This book brings together a timely sociological study of humanitarian crises and aid. It adds value to our understanding of post-conflict/disaster transitions by exploring how local institutions and communities recover. Drawing upon a wide range of case studies, it challenges a number of common assumptions that drive policy and practice.

    –David Connolly, University of York, UK