“Humanity and the challenges of the contemporary world: Man and catastrophes”

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University Charles de Gaulle, Lille 3, France
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International Conference
University of Lille 3 Charles de Gaulle, France,

April 16-17, 2014

Over the last few decades our increasingly complex and globalized world has witnessed a constant increase of disasters, cataclysms and natural or provoked catastrophes. Even if it is sometimes possible to anticipate them thanks to technological progress, they often greatly increase the mortality rate, devastate the natural environment, adversely affect ecosystems.
How does man show his creativity when confronted with catastrophes ? How will human ingenuity enable us to respond to the challenges of tomorrow’s world ?

What has man been doing and what can he do, when confronted with catastrophes for which he is responsible and with which he has to deal ?
A vast issue for humanity is the need to decide how to act either individually or collecrively in the face of the disasters that have struck our planet, are striking it today or that may strike it in the future. By disasters we mean both human catastrophes (political catastrophes-wars, genocide, despotism) and technical catastrophes-ecological disasters such as Fukushima for example and natural disasters considered in their impact on humanity.

The aim of our conference is to focus on the relationship between catastrophes and humanity, on the different ways in which catastrophes impact upon humanity . .

Our focus will be on man’s actions and reactions when facing catastrophes. The questions of responsability and conscience are particularly relevant in an interconnected world which is characterized by an unprecedented acceleration in time and space.
Crossing research in human and social sciences (philosophy, sociology, linguistic, literature, psychology, economy, management) and in the exat sciences (biologists, chemists, astronomers) cas shed light on the complexity of man’s behaviour and that of State policies.

Suggested plan.

The participants at the conference will have the opportunity to choose to have their paper included in one of the three main parts as well as in one or several subdivisions as indicated below.
The book is structured according to the chronological stages of a catastrophe :
1- Before the catastrophe
2- During the catastrophe
3- After the catastrophe.

Possible subdivisions (a few proposals are given as examples)

- Predicted catastrophes (the idea of Apocalypse, demographic catastrophes, etc.)
- announced or denounced catastrophe (on climat for example in Copenhagen)
- avoided catastrophes (thwarted attacks, the nucear disaster avoided at the last minute at the Three Mile Island power plant in the USA)
- invisible catastrophes (the nuclear energy, debates around GMOs, cultural or linguistic catastrophes, the legacy of asbesto, chemical products, drugs).
- explained catastrophes  (role of scientists, of the media, of films-documentary films)
- represented catastrophes (role of media)
- forgotten catastrophes (such as humanitarian catastrophes : nowadays millions of people live in situation of forgotten catastrophes, The Red Cross speaks of 91% of the catastrophes are forgotten, such as the nuclear disaster of Tcheliabinsk which occurred in 1957 : 50 years after the disaster a man who stays one hour in the area dies of radiation sickness)
- imagined or evoked catastrophes (in literature or any other artistic medium)
- resisted catastrophe (preparing populations to face catastrophe, prevention of catastrophes, helping populations by means of international law, « the right to catastrophes ».
- useful or justified catastrophe (the cyclical aspects of the upheavals in nature or in the history of humanity, nuclear experiments in Mururoa, a question which leads to the question of ends and means)

If it is possible to agree sometimes with Dostoevsky’s provocative and premonitory idea for the XXth century that « man…passionately loves destruction and chaos », we prefer to adhere to his vision of the human being as an « essentially constructive animal ». Let us replace the term « animal » by that of « man » and let us ask the question : shall we be able to respond to the challenges which have been evoked in the conference and to transform the destructions, catastrophes or various upheavals into the premise of a new civilisation which it wil be up to us to build for the humanity to come ?

Please submit your proposals (the title, a short abstract -300 to 500 words maximum, and short CV by July 15th , 2013 to the following address:
najib.zakka@univ-lille3.fr and catherine.dalipagic-malavaux@univ-lille3.fr

Please try to relate your proposal as closely as possible to one of the conference themes, as outline above.
The Conference Proceedings will be published. They may be written either in English or in French.

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