Natural Disasters, Cultural Responses: Case Studies Toward a Global Environmental History

Natural Disasters, Cultural Responses: Case Studies Toward a Global Environmental History

by Christof Mauch, Christian Pfister

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Catastrophes, it seems, are becoming more frequent in the twenty-first century. According to UN statistics, every year approximately two hundred million people are directly affected by natural disasters_seven times the number of people who are affected by war. Discussions about global warming and fatal disasters such as Katrina and the Tsunami of 2004 have heightened our awareness of natural disasters and of their impact on both local and global communities. Hollywood has also produced numerous disaster movies in recent years, some of which have become blockbusters. This volume demonstrates that natural catastrophes_earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, etc._have exercised a vast impact on humans throughout history and in almost every part of the world. It argues that human attitudes toward catastrophes have changed over time. Surprisingly, this has not necessarily led to a reduction of exposure or risk. The organization of the book resembles a journey around the globe_from Europe to North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, and from the Pacific through South America and Mexico to the United States. While natural disasters appear everywhere on the globe, different cultures, societies, and nations have adopted specific styles for coping with disaster. Indeed, how humans deal with catastrophes depends largely on social and cultural patterns, values, religious belief systems, political institutions, and economic structures. The roles that catastrophes play in society and the meanings they are given vary from one region to the next; they differ_and this is one of the principal arguments of this book_from one cultural, political, and geographic space to the next. The essays collected here help us to understand not only how people in different times throughout history have learned to cope with disaster but also how humans in different parts of the world have developed specific cultural, social, and technological strategies for doing so.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780739134610
Publisher: Lexington Books
Publication date: 03/16/2009
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 394
File size: 965 KB

About the Author

Christof Mauch is Chair in North American History and Transatlantic Relations at the Amerika-Institut of Munich University. Christian Pfister is a professor in the Department of Economic, Social, and Environmental History at the Institute of History, University of Bern.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction
Chapter 2 1. Learning from Nature-induced Disasters: Theoretical Considerations and Case Studies from Western Europe
Chapter 3 2. Disaster and Political Culture in Germany Since 1500
Chapter 4 3. Summer Frost: A Natural Hazard with Fatal Consequences in Preindustrial Finland
Chapter 5 4. Society and Natural Risks in France, 1500-2000: Changing Historical Perspectives
Chapter 6 5. Humanitarianism and Colonialism: Religious Responses to the Algerian Drought and Famine of 1866?1870
Chapter 7 6. The Floods of Baghdad: Cultural and Technological Responses
Chapter 8 7. Interpreting Earthquakes in Medieval Islamic Texts
Chapter 9 8. Famine in Bengal: A Comparison of the 1770 Famine in Bengal and the 1897 Famine in Chotanagpur
Chapter 10 9. Heaven-Sent Disasters in Late-Imperial China: The Scope of the State and Beyond
Chapter 11 10. Cultures of Disaster, Cultures of Coping: Hazard as a Frequent Life Experience in the Philippines
Chapter 12 11. The Parana River Floods during the Spanish-Colonial Period: Impact and Responses
Chapter 13 12. Documenting Disaster: Archival Investigations of Climate, Crisis, and Catastrophe in Colonial Mexico
Chapter 14 13. American Disasters during the Twentieth Century: The Case of New Jersey
Chapter 15 Afterword

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