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