Disasterland

An Ethnography of the International Disaster Community

Sandrine Revet (2010)

Cham: Palgrave Macmillan/Springer.

This book analyses the making of the international world of ‘natural’ disasters by its professionals. Through a long-term ethnographic study of this arena, the author unveils the various elements that are necessary for the construction of an international world: a collective narrative, a shared language, and standardized practices. The book analyses the two main framings that these professionals use to situate themselves with regards to a disaster: preparedness and resilience, arguing that the making of the world of ‘natural’ disasters reveals how heterogeneous, conflicting, and sometimes competing elements are put together.

Extract. « This book does not focus on how disaster victim populations explain and seek meaning in the upheaval they have experienced. It instead trains its attention on “natural” disaster professionals and the way in which they analyze, interpret, and understand these events. It also seeks to show what these people mobilize to deal with disasters or diminish their impacts. In this regard, it draws on pragmatic sociology (Boltanski and Thévenot 1995) and its concepts of “regimes of action” or “regimes of engagement” (Thévenot 2006), to examine the relationship between the apparatuses utilized by these professionals faced with brutal events they are expected to mitigate and the explanatory frameworks, or their way of attributing causes to such events. » (p. 8)

Link to the book