2012 Workshop

Historical and Contemporary Studies of Disasters:

Placing Chernobyl, 9/11, Katrina, Deepwater Horizon, Fukushima and Other Events in Historical and Comparative Perspective

SHOT 2012 Copenhagen
Copenhagen Business School
Sunday, 7 October 2012

Co-Sponsored by the SHOT Prometheans (Engineering) SIG, SHOT Asia Network, and Teach 3.11


For this year’s Prometheans / SHOT Asia Network SIG workshop (with co-sponsorship from Teach 3.11, a project of the Forum for the History of Science in Asia), we focus on historical and contemporary studies of both natural and anthropogenic disasters. Inspired by discussions about Fukushima and the greater East Japan Earthquake (Tohoku-chiho Taiheiyo Oki Jishin) and tsunami during the SHOT/4S/HSS co-located meeting in Cleveland last year, an interdisciplinary and international group of scholars from these three societies decided to create an open forum for academic discussions about disasters and the opportunity to place them in historical and comparative perspective. This year’s SIG session will be one gathering of this Forum, with a focus on analyzing the sociotechnical dimensions of disasters from historical and other disciplinary perspectives…

  • See the original call for papers here
  • See all abstracts for papers here
  • The workshop format, based on pre-circulated papers, is described here
  • Find registration information (including housing options) here
  • Manuscripts are being posted as they arrive, and may be found here. (Publicly posted only at the discretion of the author; other manuscripts will be distributed to registered participants.)
  • Assigned Respondents are listed here, with a list of additional participants
  • Workshop Feedback may be posted here.
  • We have also written a synopsis of this workshop which can be found here.

All participants are requested to read and comment on each manuscript before the workshop using the comment feature of this WordPress site. (All viewers are also invited to comment on the publicly posted manuscripts.)

Please note that this is a pre-circulated papers workshop, and therefore advance registration is required (seating is also limited). All registered participants are expected to read and be prepared to comment on each paper. (Please see workshop format for details.) If you are interested in participating, please contact the Program Chair, Atsushi Akera, at akeraa@rpi.edu.


Preliminary Program


Southern Brazil and natural disasters: an environmental history
Prof. Dr. Jo Klanovicz, Midwest State University, Guarapuava, Parana, Brazil

Remediating Arsenic-Contaminated Water in Bangladesh
Ann Johnson, University of South Carolina

“An Inevitable Consequence:” Changing Ideas of Prevention in the Oil Industry in the Wake of the Santa Barbara Oil Spill of 1969
Teresa Sabol Spezio, Department of History, UC Davis

“Falling Leaves: Defoliants, Dioxin, and Disaster in Vietnam”
Amy Hay, 2012 Rachel Carson Fellow, Rachel Carson Center, Munich, Germany; Assistant Professor, Department of History and Philosophy, University of Texas – Pan American

Technology and Natural Disaster: Reflections on a Changing Relationship
Matthias Heymann, Aarhus University, Denmark


Complex Catastrophe: Hurricane Katrina and the Warning Response Problem
Eric Paglia, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm Dr. Charles Parker, Uppsala University

Salient Features of Disaster Management Systems of Different Selected Countries
Dr. Rita Parihar, Dept. of Public Administration, H.P. University, India

Situated Questions, Situated Answers: How international exchange of academic questions can help the recovery process from disasters.
Chigusa Kita, Kansai University, Japan

Call it A ’Wash’? Conundrums of Technological Modernization and Flood Amelioration in Early 20th Century Niigata Prefecture, Japan
Philip Brown, Department of History, The Ohio State University

12:15pm – 1:30pm
Lunch (Details TBA)


A socialist nuclear program. The Vrancea earthquake and the Bulgarian nuclear power plant.
Ivaylo Hristov, PhD candidate, Plovdiv University, Bulgaria; Eindhoven Technical University, Netherlands

Meanings of a disaster. The contested ‘truth’ about Chernobyl
Karena Kalmbach, Department of History and Civilization, European University Institute

Engineering Terrorism: A Comparison of Technological Expertise, Innovations, and Impact in Four Urban Terror Attacks, 1807-2011
Dr. Mats Fridlund, University of Gothenburg & University of Copenhagen

A Video Game to Overcome Limits in Thinking in Order to Contemplate Disaster
Martine Robert, PhD candidate, University of Aix en Provence (CEPERC)


The first perception of the Hiroshima tragedy in France before the Cold War: between fascination and repulsion
Robert Belot, Director of the RECITS laboratory, Université de Technologie de Belfort-Montbéliard (France)
Zelda Chauvet, Doctoral student, RECITS

The Role of Nuclear Reactors in Japan-UK Relations in the Cold War
Kenzo Okuda, Independent Scholar

“Do-it-yourself (DIY) Movements after the Fukushima Nuclear Crisis”
Yasuhito Abe, University of Southern California

Displaced by Disasters: Patterns of evacuation after Fukushima
François Gemenne, DEVAST Project Coordinator, IDDRI – Sciences Po

4:30pm – 5:00pm

  • Free Writing Exercise
  • Closing Observations & Remarks



2 Responses to 2012 Workshop

  1. Pingback: NSF Award for the STS Forum on Fukushima « An STS Forum on Fukushima

  2. Pingback: Virtual Conference – Historical and Contemporary Studies of Disasters – 18-23 September 2012 « An STS Forum on Fukushima

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