Of Disasters (PEC2103.01)

Lopamudra Banerjee

This seminar is concerned with the disaster phenomenon. It examines disasters as deviations from norms. Deviations are observed in nature as extreme conditions realize in people’s physical environment (for example, extreme temperature, immoderate rainfall, and violent earth movements), and deviations are experienced in people’s lives as the natural extremes bring about severe outcomes (including great harm, damage and loss in wealth, opportunities, and even life). The seminar draws upon economic studies, social theories and environmental sciences to examine these deviations in nature and society. It examines how economic principles can be applied to investigate disaster risks, to measure disaster outcomes, and to mitigate the harmful effects on people’s lives. Analysis is extended from natural calamities (including floods, droughts, and earthquakes) to ‘man-made’ catastrophes (including famines, industrial-technological accidents and violent conflicts) to describe disaster phenomena in real space and time. The instances that are studied include hydro-meteorological disasters like Hurricane Katrina in 2005 in New Orleans and extreme floods of 1998 in Bangladesh; industrial-technological accidents like the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal in India in 1984, Exxon-Valdez oil spill in Alaska in 1989, and Deepwater horizon [BP] oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010; nuclear tragedies like the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine in 1986, and Tōhoku earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011; famine and starvation in the 1840s in Ireland and in the 1990s in Sudan; and violent ethnic conflicts in Great Lakes Region of Africa in 1996-97. The seminar also explores how its proposed approach to disaster analysis can be extended to examine worldwide recession that followed the economic crisis of 2007-08 and the phenomenon of global warming.

Prerequisites: None.
Credits: 4
W 2:10pm - 6:00pm
Maximum Enrollment: 18
This course is categorized as 2000, All courses, Environment, Four Credit, Lopamudra Banerjee, Political Economy, Wednesday Afternoons, and tagged , , , , , .