DICAN Events




DICAN Webinar no.3: Dr. Katherine A. Mason - Rethinking Infectious change in light of the Covid-19 pandemic
Thursday 2nd December, 3.00 pm – 4.30 pm CET

Dr. Mason will draw upon insights from her 2016 book, Infectious Change, to explore the connections between the 2003 SARS epidemic and the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic response in China. The talk examines how public health reforms in China following the SARS outbreak laid the groundwork for China's response to Covid. We will consider what lessons can be learned from SARS and from the contrast between China's Covid response and the broader global response over the course of the past two years.

DICAN webinars are organized by Claudia Merli (Uppsala University) and Kristoffer Albris (University of Copenhagen)
Twitter: @DICAN_easa https://twitter.com/DICAN_easa
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/dican

DICAN Webinar no.2: Christos Lynteris - Human Extinction and the Pandemic Imaginary
Thursday 4th November 2021 at 15.00 CET

Taking the question of being human at the centre of his analysis, Christos Lynteris examines the imagination of human extinction driven by a ‘next pandemic’ and the loss of control over the boundaries and relations between human and non-human. What is particular to a pandemic “end of the world” that is not shared by other “ends of the world”? And how is this pandemic imaginary entangled with mastery as a cornerstone of human ontologies in the context of technoscientific capitalism?

DICAN webinars are organized by Claudia Merli (Uppsala University) and Kristoffer Albris (University of Copenhagen)
Twitter: @DICAN_easa

DICAN Webinar no.1 Lenore Manderson and Ayo Wahlberg - Anthropologies of Urgency: Lessons from COVID-19
Thursday 30th September 15.00-17.00 CET

Viral Loads: Anthropologies of urgency in the time of COVID-19, edited by Lenore Manderson, Nancy J. Burke, and Ayo Wahlberg is available from 20th September in Open Access in pdf format via UCL Press. Two of the authors discussed this impressive contribution for DiCAN network, to deepen our analysis and understanding of urgency in the current pandemic.

DICAN webinars are organized by Claudia Merli (Uppsala University) and Kristoffer Albris (University of Copenhagen)
Twitter: @DICAN_easa

Convenors: Mara Benadusi & Aj Faas.
The presentations explored issues related to the theme of disaster capitalism and critically engaged with how to bring research on this topic forward in the future. The panel was closed by Kate Browne, who acted as a discussant.

Convenors: Seumas Bates, Kristoffer Albris & Susann Baez Ullberg
The panel explored the concept of resilience. Paper presentations from leading disaster anthropologists, such as Kate Browne and Susanna Hoffmann engaged critically with resilience, while the other presentations presented though provoking case studies. The discussants, Pamela Stewart and Andrew Strathern, closed the panel by discussing the possibilities for the place of resilience in disaster anthropology in the future.

The role and contribution of anthropology to the interdisciplinary disaster studies, IUAES Conference, May 4th-9th 2016, Dubrovnik, Croatia
Susanna Hoffman has submitted a panel proposal to the Inter-Congress of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences held in Dubrovnik, Croatia, in May 2016 with the joint support of the DICAN and the Risk and Disaster Topical Interest Group of the Society for Applied Anthropology:

“Over the past thirty years, disasters of both geophysical and technological origin had become ever more frequent and severe across our planet. The alarming situation was due in large part to the increasing conditions of vulnerability among the human community, affecting ever larger numbers of people. The previous set of driving factors of disaster is now combined with grave new components, global warming, coastward migration, and urban densification. Coincident with the increase in number and severity of disasters and the growing vulnerability of the human populations, the level of interest concerning the issues that surround both calamities and hazard has markedly expanded in the field of anthropology. Indeed, anthropology has become a major contributor to the understanding of risk, hazard, human vulnerability, and disaster. Along with anthropology’s holistic approach, engaging the environmental, biological, and socio-cultural, and its comprehensive perspective encompassing the developmental and comparative , recently the key concept of the discipline, culture, has risen to the forefront in almost every arena dealing with risk, disaster and sustainability.”

Anthropology and disaster studies: a symbiotic relationship ASA15, 13th-16th April 2015, University of Exeter, UK
DICAN members Seumas Bates, Andrea Butcher and Sébastien Boret Penmellen arranged the session Anthropology and disaster studies: a symbiotic relationship at the meeting of the Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and Commonwealth (ASA) held at the University of Exeter in April of 2015. The DICAN sponsored this double session. Read more at: www.nomadit.co.uk/asa/asa2015/panels.php5?PanelID=3354

Moral landscapes in crisis, conflict and catastrophe, SANT 17th-19th April 2015, Lund University, Sweden
Carolina Holgersson Ivarsson and Susann Baez Ullberg convened a DICAN sponsored session called Moral landscapes in crisis, conflict and catastrophe at the annual conference of the Swedish Association of Social Anthropology held at Lund University on 17-19 April 2015. The theme of this year’s conference was anthropology and morality. The DICAN sponsored session addressed how moral arguments and actions are voiced, articulated, negotiated and contested in social contexts of upheaval in which values are at stake, such as in communities affected by disaster and conflict. Read more about the conference and the session here (in Swedish and English): santkonferens2015.blogg.lu.se

Archiving and Memorializing Disasters
International Workshop (16.3.2015)
Sébastien Penmellen Boret & Akihiro Shibayama Tohoku University, Japan

The World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held Sendai (March 14-18, 2015) brought together several members of DICAN and other fellow anthropologists of disasters during a public forum, Archiving and Memorializing Disasters. For this international and interdisciplinary workshop, Sébastien Penmellen Boret and Akihiro Shibayama invited anthropologists, historians and information scientists from the USA, Europe and Asia. Together they discuss the roles of digital archives, collective memory and memorialization in the aftermath and the prevention of disasters.


Susann Baez Ullberg
Urban flooding and Landscapes of Memory
Centre for Crisis Management Research & Training (Sweden)

As events, disasters are extraordinary and totalising, and, because of this, one would expect them to be memorable, and shape ideas and practices on how to deal with new crises successfully. The literature on crisis and disaster management suggests that communities learn from disaster experience, which leads to reduced risks and enhanced preparedness. A recent case study in Santa Fe City, Argentina, based on ethnographic methods problematizes this assumption. Studying the urban landscape of flood memories enables an understanding for the heterogeneous, selective and dynamic ways of remembering and forgetting that shape societal vulnerability and resilience to recurrent hazards.

Susanna M. Hoffman
Archiving and Memorialising Disasters Through Expressive Culture: Art, Story, Song, and Legend

Hoffman Consulting (USA)

Disasters have been a theme artwork, stories and legend in both Western and Eastern worlds for millennia. They speak of morality and consequence, act as cautionary reminder of place and practice, and function as oracle. Overlapping through time and across space, they become part of a culture’s capital. They can also act as a pivot differentiating a model “of” disaster and a model “for disaster,” an image of a postulated reality with meanings that could be factual or mislead.

Sébastien Penmellen Boret
Mainstreaming Memorialisation into Disaster Recovery: Lessons learned from the Indian Ocean and Great East Japan Tsunamis
Tohoku University (Japan)

This paper is a first attempt to advocate for the inclusion of memorialisation and mourning facilities within standard programmes of disaster recovery. Whether natural or man-made, the traumatic experiences of disasters call for spaces, places and objects of memory. Memorial ceremonies, monuments, gardens and museums are all tangible and intangible forms of remembering disasters and their victims. Considering the regular delays in the provision of mourning facilities, this paper asks a few fundamental questions: How are the mourning families and friends of the victims dealing with their loss and trauma during the recovery period? What impact can the absence of mourning facilities have on social recovery? Drawing from ethnographic observations in Japan and Indonesia, this paper argues that mourning facilities can form a systematic basis for the social recovery of disaster communities.


Muzailin AFFAN with Sebastien P. Boret
Digital Archive of Tsunami in Aceh (DATA), A concept and pilot study for disseminating Post-disaster data and Information
Syiah Kuala University (Indonesia)

On 26 December 2004, the Indian Ocean Tsunami annihilated entire communities and caused unprecedented human and material loss in Aceh Province, Indonesia. During the ten years that followed the event, large amount of data and memories have been preserved though local and international organizations, local initiatives and academic research. However, this information spread over a heterogeneous network remains difficult to access for researchers or organizations wishing to use the case of Aceh in order to advance disaster risk reduction. The DATA project collaborates with universities, governmental authorities, development agencies and local communities in order to collect, manage and disseminate these records and develop into an international centre for the study of tsunami in South, Southeast Asia and beyond.

David Slater with Maja Veselic
Memorialising through Video Archives of Disaster
Sophia University (Japan)

In the days, months and now years since the 3.11 disaster, amidst the flurry of news and photos, texts and tweets, one type of data has often been overlooked: the human voice. Our project, which began as volunteer work in Tohoku, has collected and archived more than 500 hours of unstructured oral narrative video (tohokukaranokoe.org). This paper will discuss the always delicate and sometimes problematic nature of collaboration between local residents and outside archivists in the development and presentation of digital memorialization.

Ryo Morimoto
An Atom for Memory: Some challenges for Archiving and Memorializing the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster
Brandeis University (USA)

This paper addresses the significant challenges of archiving and memorializing the Nuclear Disaster. First, I review a few projects that work toward memorializing the nuclear disaster in Fukushima and the difficulty such endeavours face. Second, I focus on some of the peculiar qualities of radioactive substances as material objects—their invisibility, potency and ubiquitous, though distanced presence. I describe how, historically and culturally, radioactive substances as an object of memory have been subject to (1) censorship; (2) mediations; and (3) ignorance. Therefore I suggest “an atom for memory”—an ethical attempt to archive the materialized radioactive substances in the emerging waste-wilderness in costal Fukushima.

EASA 2014 Panel Summary
Living with Disasters: Hazards, Continuity and Change
Convenors: Zuzana Hrdlickova& Hannah Swee

On the 3rd of August 2014, the panel “Living with Disasters: Hazards, Continuity and Change” was held at the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) Conference in Tallinn, Estonia. The panel was convened by Hannah Swee and Zuzana Hrdlickova and featured 9 speakers presenting on a variety of papers that showcased the depth of anthropological research that is currently being undertaken on disasters.



The presentations covered themes such as post-disaster recovery, the religious significance of disasters, the relationships between organisations, disaster management and the public, and the psychological impacts that fieldwork in disaster areas can have on anthropologists.  The field sites featured in each presentation were particularly diverse representing insights on disasters in Indonesia, USA, Germany, Argentina, Australia and India.


The panel conveners would like to thank all the speakers and everyone who attended the panel and contributed to the highly insightful discussions.


Papers presented

After the explosion: volcanos and their social perception on Lombok, Indonesia
Volker Gottowik (Frankfurt and Heidelberg University)
The landscape of the Indonesian island of Lombok has been shaped by an active volcano and its explosion in historical times. This paper deals with local explanations of this disaster and its impacts on social relations on this island.



Rebuilding with music: musicians and their importance for the survival of post-Katrina New Orleans
MSc Geerke Bakker
This paper is about the influence of Katrina on the music community of New Orleans. It explores the way Katrina had an influence on the music community and their notion of their importance for New Orleans and its rebuilding.



Hurricane Katrina, the BP oil spill, and the challenge to white, male hegemony
Seumas Bates (University of Glasgow)
In southern Louisiana, the potential for and memory of hurricanes and oil spills is woven into the cultural landscape. This experience of disaster exists within on-going processes of cultural precariousness, whereby established, normative hierarchies of race and gender are increasingly threatened.



Disaster publics: perceptions of citizenship in the wake of floods in Central Europe
Kristoffer Albris (University of Copenhagen)
This paper explores how the floods in Central Europe in June 2013 have shaped public perceptions of citizenship, by focusing on publics as emergent collectives. The paper also discusses the idea of social change in the wake of disasters, and the ethnographic challenges that follow from this.


Change, continuity and the making of a polity of disaster remembering in the wake of la Inundación in Santa Fe City (Argentina)
Susann Baez Ullberg (Swedish National Defence College)
The governmental flaw in mitigating the 2003 flood in Santa Fe City (Argentina) made different groups of disaster victims mobilise protest in collaboration. Together they constituted a polity of disaster remembering, producing both change and continuity in terms of resilience and vulnerability.

Cyclones and the construction of normality in Australia
Hannah Swee (University College London)
By exploring the way that cyclones are lived with as a regular occurrence in Australia, this paper will discuss how active constructions of normality are necessary in order to adapt to living with natural hazards and disasters.

Risk perceptions and natural hazard management in the Brahmaputra floodplain (Assam, north-east India)
Emilie Cremin (CNRS)

Our research aims to understand the complex ways in which different stakeholders (farmers, NGOs, and Governments) interact with and manage the effects of hydrogeomorphological dynamics in the Brahmaputra flood plain (Assam north-east India).

From apocalypse to disruption: Notes from Fact-finding mission with NIDM in the aftermath of  cyclone Phailin
Zuzana Hrdlickova (Goldsmiths, University of London)
The 1999 Orissa Supercyclone killed 10.000 people and 14 years later, the similarly ferocious cyclone Phailin had ‘just’ claimed 40 human lives in the same state. This paper will examine the dynamics of collaborative processes that transformed cyclones from apocalypse to ‘mere’ disruption.

Relational supervision and the traumatic ethnographical experience
Salma Siddique (Edinburgh NapierUniversity)
This paper considers the application of therapeutic supervision for people witnessing traumatic and distressing events in collaboration with other disciplines and organizations; and its application for anthropological researchers returning from their fieldwork .