[URBANTH-L]CRP: Chernobyl etc.: Approaching Disaster Studies

Angela Jancius acjancius at ysu.edu
Wed Jan 18 17:39:23 EST 2006

Central European University
Pasts, Inc. Centre for Historical Studies
CEU Seminar in Recent History

Chernobyl, etc.:Approaching Disaster Studies
Interdisciplinary Workshop
16-18 March 2006, Budapest

Call for Papers

Why are there apparently so many disastrous events happening nowadays? What 
is the nature of our contemporary social, political and cultural order that 
results in the mushrooming of catastrophes? What are their actual 
consequences - both negative and positive? What is the role of mass media in 
constructing and perceiving a disaster? What is the role of artists: are 
they chroniclers, interpreters, profiteers, or healers of disasters? The 
seminar will consider the concept and phenomenon of disasters as an 
inherently interdisciplinary object.
Special emphasis will be laid on the role of historical perspectives, 
however. What unique insights can historical methods and approaches bring? 
To what extent does the temporalization of the point of view help to unfold 
the genesis and meaning of disastrous events? How does history, putting a 
disaster into a historical prospective, help outline both the actual scope 
of the mishap and its most essential core traits? Which historical genres 
are useful to describe, comprehend and render familiar the unexpected? What 
are the methodological and theoretical preconditions for history to help us 
in understanding disasters? What are the shortcomings of current 
scholarship? How, speaking more broadly, can sciences and humanities be 
integrated with the arts? What is the place of history in the research and 
mitigation of disasters? Does history have the power to promote and foster 
social and cultural regeneration? What is the role of commemoration and the 
working through of trauma in mitigating the consequences of catastrophes? 
Can the history of previous natural and human catastrophes - earthquakes, 
eruptions of volcanoes or genocide and political terror - help us to learn 
about contemporary disasters?

The seminar's starting point will be the interdisciplinary discussion of 
Chernobyl: one of the most developed case studies in 'disaster studies'. 
What are the achievements of historical research of disasters, first of all 
of (but not only) Chernobyl? What is known and still remains mysterious 
about the Chernobyl disaster? Which approaches and frameworks proved to be 
efficient - and which rather hindered or even failed Chernobyl research? 
What is so special about contemporary disasters? What do we learn by means 
of 'disaster studies' about 'the most progressive', 'brave new' 
technologies: nuclear, information technology, mass media? What about the 
interaction of natural, technological and social environments? What are the 
universal traits of contemporary disasters and their social-system-, 
country-, culture-, origin-specific features? Globalization as a factor in 
disasters: does it expand the magnitude of the disastrous hazards or help to 
localize and mitigate their impact?

Scheduled one month ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, 
the workshop strives to affect the anniversary agenda, to practically help 
recovery both from Chernobyl and the aftermath of other recent disasters. 
The seminar will gather an unusually broad circle of expertise, ranging from 
historians and social scientists to ecologists, nuclear physicists and 
artists, policy-makers and environmental activists, many of them important 
witnesses and seasoned field mitigation workers - both from the Central and 
Eastern European region and worldwide. The three-day event will have several 
keynote presentations, followed by consecutive panels. The poster session 
option is considered. A collective volume will be published on the basis of 
the workshop proceedings. Workshop sessions will be open for CEU students 
and faculty and the general public. Extensive and in-depth coverage of the 
event by mass media is expected.

If you are interested to make a presentation please BEFORE JANUARY 31, 2006 
send its 1-2 page description (title, author(s) name, contact info, 
affiliation, abstract) and a half-page resume of your activities and main 
publications and projects to the Organizing Committee, Pasts Inc., Center 
for Historical Studies, CEU; http://www.ceu.hu/pasts :
aporp at ceu.hu - Dr. Péter Apor, Pasts Inc. junior research fellow,
mirnyi at netscape.net - Sergii Mirnyi, CEU Environmental Sciences and Policy 
Department associated researcher

NOTE FOR PROSPECTIVE PRESENTERS: For this interdisciplinary event, the 
preference will be given to papers which combine scholarly thoroughness and 
multidisciplinarity with broad-audience friendliness, the latter understood 
both in terms of the choice of topic, ideas, terminology and mode of 
delivery. One of the aims of the event is to go beyond the communication 
barriers in the topic of Chernobyl and disasters, to explain the issues 
usually thought to be complex and almost 'non-perceivable' in an 
understandable way (but not vice versa, which is often the case in a 
'narrow-guild' communication). 

More information about the URBANTH-L mailing list