This theoretical contribution argues that the domination of Western knowledge in disaster scholarship has allowed normative policies and practices of disaster risk reduction to be imposed all over the world. It takes a postcolonial approach to unpack why scholars claim that disasters are social constructs while offering little but theories, concepts and methods supposed to be universal in understanding the unique and diverse experiences of millions of people across very different cultures. It further challenges forms of governments inherited from the Enlightenment that have been rolled out as standard and ultimate solutions to reduce the risk of disaster. Ultimately, the book encourages the emergence of a more diverse set of world views/senses and ways of knowing for both studying disasters and informing policy and practice of disaster risk reduction. Such pluralism is essential to better reflect local realities of what disasters actually are around the world.
This book is an essential read for scholars and postgraduate students interested in disaster studies as well as policy-makers and practitioners of disaster risk reduction.
Table of Contents
1. What is a Disaster?
2. A Genealogy of Disaster Studies
3. Unfulfilled Promise of a Paradigm Shift
4. The Quest for Pantometry
5. The Governmentality of Disaster
6. Climate Change and the Ultimate Challenge of Modernity
7. Exclusive Inclusion and the Imperative of Participation
8. Gender in Disaster beyond Men and Women
9. Power and Resistance in Disaster Risk Reduction
10. The Invention of Disaster
Postscript: Where to From Here?
JC Gaillard is Professor of Geography at Waipapa Taumata Rau (The University of Auckland), Aotearoa (New Zealand).
"The book’s contribution is its effort to critically deconstruct the current disaster governance paradigms formulated by disaster scholars, international aid organizations, and Western governments across the globe and provides thought-provoking arguments regarding reducing vulnerability and increasing resiliency against disasters with bottom-up rather than top-down approaches. It takes a highly philosophical approach but presents constructive criticism and lands on solid ground with useful takeaways." Irmak Renda-Tanali, CPP, 2022