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I INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE “(DIS)MEMORY OF DISASTER” (18-19 October 2013 - Madeira, Portugal)
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Within the context of the controversial risk society concept, which seems to have played a pivotal role in his thinking on the reflexive modernity, Ulrich Beck more recently drew attention to the impact of “the public dramatization of risks” on the cultural imagination of the contemporary globalised world and furthermore noting the implications of these factors to our daily lives whether in socio- ecological, (bio)political, economic or technological terms or at the level of issues relating to psychology, epistemology or even the arts (Beck, 2012: 6). Inhabiting a desacralised world, with borders that prove ever more porous, and where reality becomes experienced at an ever more accelerated pace of mutation dominated by instability and liquidity (Baumann, 2000), the modern subject finds himself caught up in a “tidal wave of memorial concerns”, as Pierre Nora (2002: 1) highlights, and, in Beck’s perspective, takes up a position as a central and (ir)responsible figure in the construction of the respective eco-socio-cultural system. To this extent, risks and disasters may be attributed to human action itself and the choices and decisions taken by individuals and institutions, while taking into consideration past experiences and perspectives as regards the future. According to Ulrich Beck (2012: 8), more science or knowledge does not necessarily mean the mitigation of risks but rather a greater visibility to those risks (and often in neither a critical nor a thorough fashion) and thereby rendering their perception still starker.
Understood as a complex process, subject to manifold manipulation and determined, according to Gisela Wachinger and Ortwin Renn (2010), not only by formal or empirical knowledge but also by other factors (experiences and expectations; values, mental and imaginary models; attitudes and interests; affects and emotions; socio-cultural contexts; etcetera), the perception of risk is today deemed a key process in decision making in situations of (risk of) disaster (Alexander, 2011: 9) and, consequently in the construction of both vulnerability and resilience.
Within this framework, and perceiving disasters as multi-dimensional phenomena caused by exposure to diverse hazards (floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, wars, terrorist attacks, nuclear accidents, etcetera) and, in particular, as extreme events that reveal failings in the workings of the eco-socio-cultural systems as Enrico Quarantelli (2005) notes, the I International Conference “(Dis)Memory of disaster” wishes to constitute a space for both academic and civic debate and to question the implications between memory/forgetfulness (whether individual or cultural), perceptions of danger, risk management and the experience of disasters in diverse geo-cultural contexts.
Without ever ignoring approaches centred around the study of dangers (natural, technological and others), we nevertheless aim for this event to analyse disaster related phenomena across all of their densest and most complex facets within a multidisciplinary perspective. We aim at reaching beyond the boundaries of the technological and the natural sciences and thus also engaging with other disciplinary fields. Indeed, as Anthony Oliver-Smith (2004: 11) points out, even natural disasters themselves should be studied as phenomena driven by the interchange between natural factors and human and cultural factors. Therefore, any analytical approach requires not only the learnings generated by the natural and technological sciences but also the fields of anthropology, economics, history, psychology, sociology, culture studies and other interconnected fields. Taking an inverse approach, we become able to legitimately question the relevance that the study of disasters might play to studies of the human psychology and studies on the historical and socio-cultural universes that experience those extreme phenomena.
Thus, the I International Conference “(Dis)Memory of disaster” hereby issues a call for paper proposals (20 minutes), focused preferentially on the following broad fields of reflection:
. The art of disaster and ways of worldmaking: the representation of disaster and the construction of the event’s cultural memory;
Registration for themed panels is also now open with each panel made up of groups of three or four speakers chaired by a specialist on the respective theme of that panel.
Schedule and submission of proposals:
Paper proposals (lasting a maximum of 20 minutes) and/or panel suggestions should be submitted to the following email address: (firstname.lastname@example.org) by 30th June 2013. The e-documentation submitted should include the following: paper title; abstract (200 words); name(s), contact(s) and academic affiliation of the proposed speaker(s); a brief CV or bio- bibliographic note containing the respective key areas of academic research and interest (approx. 100 words).
Notification of paper acceptance will take place by 31 July 2013.
The conference working languages are Portuguese, English, Spanish and French.
For further information on this event, please go to: