Panel descriptions

A multiprofessional, collaborative approach to disaster and emergency management; Obtaining knowledge, skills and competency through simulation exercises

Disaster and emergencies with a large number of casualties are rare, but a reality and should be managed based on the existing knowledge and resources. Due to its rarity, this kind of management cannot be learned or practiced during the actual event, and there should be space for obtaining proper knowledge, to exercise the obtained knowledge to become skillful and at the end to train to become a competent responder. Simulation exercises are one method that can be used to achieve such a competency.

A simulation could use various type of methodologies such as full-scale exercises, tabletop exercises, seminars, artificial intelligence, and other types of screen technique to achieve the following aims;

  1. Obtain the adequate level of preparedness to achieve a reliable Surge Capacity and its essential elements, i.e., Staff, Stuff, Structure, and system and the possibility to engage the whole chain of response to an emergency
  2. Use relevant input data/parameter to measure the outcome of invested human and material resources
  3. Improve the inter-organizational collaboration and synergies to accomplish a smooth and fluent response.

For this panel, we invite papers focusing on exercise technique to make predictions of the outcome in terms of resource usability, organizational integration, ability to handle the disaster, and usefulness of the exercise demonstrated by validated parameters. We encourage all researchers in different fields such as medical, technical, social, earth sciences, and others to contribute to this panel with their related scenarios (human-made and natural events), and their knowledge.


Amir Khorram-Manesh, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg / Armed Forces Center For Defence Medicine, Gothenburg, Sweden

After the smoke clears: Perspectives of heritage professionals in the post-disaster context

Post-disaster, a variety of factors determine whether or not a particular event becomes a part of the historical narrative and how it is portrayed and remembered. Media influence, cultural beliefs regarding death, dying, and treatment of the dead, indigenous knowledge of hazards and their impacts, and the influence of large international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the “heritage at risk” framework (Rico, 2014) all have an impact on the process of post-disaster memory-making and the production of disaster-related cultural heritage.

This production of culture allows for various outcomes including commemoration of events and veneration of disaster sites, highlighting of the vulnerability or heroism of certain segments of the population, thanatourism often referred to as dark tourism (Zavar and Schumann, 2018; White & Frew, 2013), and even slow the fading of an event from public memory. This confluence of factors not only influences the archivistic processes (Ketelaar, 2000) by which objects and documents are deemed important enough to salvage or preserve (or are conversely excluded from the cultural narrative), but also how these documents are used to portray disasters and form narratives around crisis events. These narratives, as presented in the collections of museums, libraries, and archives, can ultimately shape policy decisions that have very real effects on the lives of ordinary people (Birkland, 2006 & 2009).

Often overlooked by disaster researchers and crisis managers, however, are the perspectives of heritage professionals who do the work of preserving and documenting disaster heritage. This panel will invite and call upon academics and heritage professionals to discuss processes and decision-making around the production of disaster heritage through real-world case studies. Should an art conservator preserve disaster-related damage to an object in a museum collection as part of the history of the object, or restore it to its pre-disaster state? How should archivists decide which documents to preserve after a disaster? How do digital humanists address the challenges of collecting social media posts after a tragedy? What types of uncertainty do heritage professionals face, post-event, or how do they navigate these uncertainties?


Valerie Marlowe, University of Delaware, Newark, USA
Joelle Wickens, University Of Delaware, Newark, USA


Birkland, T. A. (2006). Lessons of disaster: Policy change after catastrophic events. Georgetown University Press.

Birkland, T. A. (2009). Disasters, lessons learned, and fantasy documents. Journal of Contingencies and Crisis
Management, 17(3), 146-156.

Ketelaar, E. (2000). Archivistics research saving the profession. The American Archivist, 63(2), 322-340.

Rico, T. (2014). The limits of a ‘heritage at risk’ framework: the construction of post-disaster cultural heritage in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Journal of Social Archaeology, 14(2), 157-176.

White, L., & Frew, E. (2013). Dark tourism and place identity: Managing and interpreting dark places. Routledge.

Zavar, E. M., & Schumann III, R. L. (2019). Patterns of disaster commemoration in long‐term recovery. Geographical Review, 109(2), 157-179.

Between commemoration and dark tourism: Remembering disasters in post-disaster contexts

In the aftermath of disasters questions arise whether at all and if yes, how to commemorate the disaster in cultural and social discourses, but also in public spaces. Often it is a long lasting social and political struggle who has the moral authority to shape commemoration practices, what should be commemorated, and what are appropriate means to do so. As a result, in some places specific disaster memorials are constructed which create (public) spaces and thus practices for the commemoration of the disaster and its victims. In other places practices of commemoration and recollection are not enshrined in memorials but remain more open.

A form of its own to remember and a disaster and its legacy is the emergence of dark or disaster tourism in affected areas. Dark tourism – originally describing people touring places of atrocities and war crimes – reached disaster affected regions such as Chernobyl, Fukushima, or New Orleans in recent years and is seen as highly ambivalent: While disaster tourism creates revenue in disaster areas that often suffer from tremendous decreases in tourists and visitors on the one hand, it is also heavily criticized for being voyeuristic and exploiting as well as for the on-going stigmatization of a disaster affected area on the other hand.

More recently, dark tourism has become an emerging branch of the tourism industry in the wake of disasters, for instance in India, which has fueled the discussion on disaster capitalism.

In the panel, we would like to discuss the economic and political drivers that support dark tourism to get a broader understanding of the complexity of post-disaster commemoration practices.

We invite contributions that

  • theoretically, ethically and/or conceptually deal with the interconnectedness of disaster, (dark) tourism and commemoration.
  • analyze the political and social struggles in dealing with the legacy of disasters.
  • present historical and current case studies focusing on disaster dark tourism.
  • discuss examples how the thin line between commemoration and dark tourism is contested, negotiated and maintained.


Daniel F. Lorenz, Disaster Research Unit (DRU), Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Cordula Dittmer, Disaster Research Unit (DRU), Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany

Beyond the classroom: Promising practices from the frontiers of emergency management education

Two forces are transforming the sector of disaster and emergency management (EM). On one hand, external pressures – including a rapidly changing climate, demographic and geographic transitions, and ever-higher expectations for loss prevention – result in the need for a growing cadre of highly effective emergency managers. On the other, pushes for professionalization, inclusive leadership, and evidence-based approaches to EM within these roles creates a situation where on-the-job training is no longer sufficient for developing managers, researchers, and leaders. Moreover, increases in the complexity of the job, including via computational methods, highly diverse populations, and unsettled policy landscapes, result in requirements for new ‘fluencies’ and skillsets. Taken together, these forces create greater than ever pressure to develop leaders who are adept in EM, who can work collaboratively and across disciplines and sectors, and who blend the best of real-world experience with theoretical insights.

This panel convenes a series of presenters to talk about frontiers in EM training and education, including program design, evaluation, and scaling. The panel will be unified by two core questions: First, what are emerging promising practices in EM education that move beyond traditional rote learning? Second, how can we critically investigate these programs to improve their effectiveness, share lessons internationally, and ensure maximum impact? We seek papers bringing a critical eye to themes in EM education, including (but not limited to experiential learning; non-traditional career paths; equity, diversity, and inclusion in pedagogy; and programs that have iteratively improved their design through effective evaluation.

To facilitate an effective session – and to explore the potential for a special issue or similar – presenters sharing case studies are encouraged to think through a few specific lenses. First, how is this case study similar to (and different from) other offerings domestically and internationally? Second, what makes this investigation a robust approach to examining a case study in EM education (rather than, say, simple promotion of a program)? Finally, how has this program approached questions of inclusion, evaluation, scalability, and sustainability? The panel also warmly welcomes theoretical and broader critical examinations of EM education.


Eric Kennedy, York University, Toronto, Canada

Community response to crises and disasters: from preparedness to practices

Many disasters, such as wildfires, floods and terrorist attacks, have a fairly localized impact area, even if the ultimate causes of the event may be of a more global character. In such cases, community response, outside the realm of the professional responders that are commonly considered the ‘core’ of crisis management, can express itself in a variety of forms:

Volunteers of different kinds have perhaps received the lion’s share of scholarly attention. They may assist the professional responders, but may also work independently in a more unofficial response operation. They may be members of voluntary emergency organizations such as The Red Cross, but they may also lack an organizational affiliation and work together in informal groups.

Volunteers are not the only actors appearing in community response. When a crisis occurs, its effects often have to be dealt with by people performing their ordinary work during extraordinary circumstances. For example, teachers have to teach their pupils even if the school has been burnt down. This kind of practice in crisis management has not until recently been recognized in the literature.

Another kind of community activities taking place outside the official system of emergency preparedness and response is household preparedness, i.e., preparations for crises undertaken by individuals or families in their own homes. A closely related type of activities is carried out by people living in the vicinity of a disaster area, sometimes under threat of having to evacuate their homes.

In this panel, the abovementioned, and other similar, local actors and activities are grouped together under the heading of "Community response". Many interesting research questions on this topic deserve scholarly attention. Just to take one example: Volunteers during crises are increasingly attracting the attention of governments and actors in the official national systems for civil protection and preparedness. This has led to attempts, in several countries, to organize the less organized community response actors. But is everything possible to organize? What will happen to people’s commitment to make voluntary contributions for the community, if they are turned into service providers for the government rather than community members helping one another?


Roine Johansson, Mid Sweden University, Östersund, Sweden
Linda Kvarnlöf, Mid Sweden University, Östersund, Sweden
Olof Oscarsson, Mid Sweden University, Östersund, Sweden

Deep cultures of disaster: The significance of the anthropological perspective for understanding the interstices of hazards and disaster

It is now widely accepted that all disasters are human caused. For this reason, the anthropological perspective, namely its concern with the deep cultural perspective, and methods of inquiry, are of upmost importance for understanding the cultural intricacies through which people perceive, experience, recover from and memorialise disasters, and also come to imagine what desired outcomes, utopias and dystopias might look like. Culture therefore mediates learning, evaluation and technological development for disaster risk reduction, and is the medium through which policies and practices of disaster risk reduction and recovery interventions are constructed, legitimized, enacted, realised or rejected. Researchers, policy makers and practitioners, including hazard and disasters experts, have all too often merely acknowledged a surface lamina to a people’s culture, however it is culture in its most discerning and anthropological sense that is key to understanding how people deal with threat (Hoffman and Oliver-Smith 2002). In addition, while researchers are increasingly attempting to integrate their activities through multi-disciplinary projects, a persistent assumption seems to prevail among many engaged in the risk and disaster enterprise that solutions lie predominately with physical scientists and engineers rather than social scientists. However, we would argue that those involved need to assess the circumstance in a culturally relative manner that includes how people assess risk and calculate what constitutes recovery.

This panel seeks to explore the significance of the anthropological deep cultural perspective and methods of inquiry for understanding the collective, individual and organisational experience after crises and catastrophes, including ways of perceiving danger, memorializing events, envisioning futures, developing disaster risk reduction policies and practice, and in preparing for future events. We welcome papers that explore the use of the anthropological perspective to address any of the above themes, however we are particularly interested in papers that address the above themes through an anthropological lens in relation to: a) emerging issues in hazards and disaster research or b) within large multi, inter and trans-disciplinary research projects.


Irena L. C. Connon, University of Dundee, Dundee, UK
Susanna Hoffman, Hoffman Consulting & Chief Of IUAES Commission On Risk And Disaster, Telluride, CO, USA


Hoffman, S., and A. Oliver-Smith, eds. 2002. Catastrophe and Culture. Santa Fe, NM: School of American Research.

Digital technologies and disasters

There are many ways to use digital support in various types of crises. A few examples are; computer-aided decision-making that can touch everything from decisions during a crisis different phases (before, during and after), analysis of past events in the form of data mining where data from previously comparable events can be used, computer-aided simulations, different types of visualizations, crowdsourcing where volunteers are contributes to data collection. There is a need for different types of studies to design different types of software that may been helpful and supportive at work before, during and after a crisis.


Lena-Maria Öberg, Mid Sweden University, Östersund, Sweden
Christina Amcoff Nyström, Mid Sweden University, Östersund, Sweden

Disaster recovery in the long-term

While specific disasters are often discussed publicly as events in a relatively brief time frame, disaster researchers are well aware that disaster recovery can be a long-term process. Despite this knowledge, for a variety of practical, methodological, and even theoretical reasons, disaster research often finds itself focused on a narrower time frame. This raises a series of problems and complications for research and applied approaches, including a relative lack of information on how long-term recovery processes succeed or fail or how they are perceived over time by emergency management officials, government agencies, the media, and both directly affected and non-affected laypeople. Moreover, it means we need more extensive indepth knowledge of how long-term cycles and repeating disasters may affect not only a population and their landscape, but also their recovery from subsequent events. Particularly in an era of climate change with potentially shifting disaster scopes and frequency, understanding how people experience disaster recovery in the long-term and how it shapes their response to subsequent events is critical to our research on disasters and application of that research.

This panel invites contributions from a range of perspectives, including: those drawn from both experiences of conducting research and the recounted experiences of people in disasters, preparedness, and recovery; those that play with realities by discussing or introducing theoretical and methodological approaches relevant to the better understanding of long-term processes; and those which imagine the future of long-term disaster research and changing experiences of cycles of disasters. Moreover, in an era of increased focus on interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research, this panel invites a range of research and work perspectives, including disaster researchers situated in academia, practitioners, and people who span both spheres. This panel is conceptualized as a space to explore what we do know, but also to examine what we may not know and how various fields may contribute theoretically, methodologically, and practically to a better understanding of disaster recovery in the long-term and how it shapes people's beliefs and behaviors in other disasters.


Jennifer Trivedi, University of Delaware, Newark, USA

Focus on human needs: Understanding good and bad practices in public health crises

The crisis leadership model developed by Boin and 't Hart is a common approach to structure tasks – or
challenges – of governments and professionals in a crisis context. These general tasks include sense-making, decisionmaking, coordination, meaning-making, account-giving and learning (Boin & ‘t Hart 2010; Boin et al. 2016). From a public health perspective, which is the focus of this panel, the crisis leadership tasks are a useful instrument to analyze real-life cases or training scenario’s. That is to say, they can be beneficial for public health when each task addresses the health, well-being and safety of the populations affected by the crisis (Dückers et al. 2017). Sense-making, for example, should consider needs and problems of the affected as well as risks and protective factors. Ideally, this first task will help to guide decision-making on the response and supportive interventions, which will be provided in a coordinated effort by multiple actors, professions and disciplines. Meaning-making activities like public speeches, commemorations and disaster monuments can be therapeutic for individual and communities. Account-giving can have a similar effect when apologies are made and are perceived as sincere. Finally, learning is needed to draw lessons for the future and to close the cycle through prevention and preparedness. Against this background the panel seeks to promote a meaningful exchange between researchers working on the intersection of public health and crisis management, with an emphasis on three topics: (1) good and bad practices in the planning and delivery of a public health response to disasters and major crises; (2) conceptual or tested approaches to gain insight into the needs and problems of affected individuals and groups; (3) promising ideas and theories, methodologies, challenges and lessons on how to evaluate public health responses and support interventions.


Michel Dückers, Nivel - Netherlands Institute of Health Services Research, Utrecht, Netherlands / ARQ National Psychotrauma Centre, Diemen, Netherlands
Menno Van Duin, Institute For Safety, Arnhem, Netherlands
Marleen Kraaij-Dirkzwager, National Institute For Public Health And The Environment, Bilthoven, Netherlands
Lise Eilin Stene, Norwegian Centre For Violence And Traumatic Stress Studies, Oslo, Norway


Boin, A., & 't Hart, P. (2010). Organising for effective emergency management: Lessons from research 1. Australian Journal of Public Administration, 69(4), 357-371.

Boin, A., Stern, E., & Sundelius, B. (2016). The politics of crisis management: Public leadership under pressure. Cambridge University Press.

Dückers, M. L., Yzermans, C. J., Jong, W., & Boin, A. (2017). Psychosocial crisis management: the unexplored
intersection of crisis leadership and psychosocial support. Risk, Hazards & Crisis in Public Policy, 8(2), 94-112.

How differences matter in emergency, risk and crisis management

Today, research on social differentiation has a relatively coherent starting point in deeming social categories like e.g. gender, ethnicity, class, age as culturally constructed and not something that exists only by itself (cf. Enarson, Fothergill & Peek 2006; Giritli Nygren & Olofsson, 2014) This panel addresses how this kind of differences are understood and handled during emergencies, risk and crisis management. Crisis management is strongly linked to social norms and to the definition of what constitutes a crisis were masculinity play a crucial role (Danielsson, 2016 Ericsson, 2011; Ericsson & Mellström, 2016). Crises are constructed in the definition of what is a crisis, in the organizing of crisis management and crisis preparedness, in the language and story of crises and in which stories are important to pass on (Ericson and Mellström, 2016; Öhman et al., 2016). Understandings of the concepts risk and crisis have also often been based on patriarchal and Eurocentric schemes in research as well as practice (Bradshaw & Linneker 2017; Hervik, 2019; Giritli-Nygren et al., 2017). This, in turn, has contributed to the fact that crisis management in various forms has traditionally been associated with men and masculinity and European white supremacy, whereas vulnerability have rather been seen in relation to women and 'the Other', which are being rationalized and ethnized (Ericson 2011; Ericson & Mellström 2016; Giritli Nygren & Olofsson, 2014; Hervik 2019; Olofsson & Rashid, 2011). In addition, the gendered dimensions of dealing with risk (Wester, 2012) and especially how the perspective of social differences is part of the profession of emergency management still needs more considerations (Olofsson & Rashid, 2011; Olofsson et al 2014).  

In this panel, we welcome critical analytical perspectives in order to move this field forward.


Erna Danielsson, Mid Sweden University, Östersund, Sweden
Mikkel Bøhm, University College Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Nina Blom Andersen, University College Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark


Bradshaw, S. and B. Linneker (2017) ‘Gender Perspectives on Disaster reconsruction in Nicaragua: Reconstructing Roles and Relations?’ In E. Enarson and P. G. D. Chakrabarti (eds) Women, Gender and Disaster. Sage, New Delhi. pp. 75-88.

Danielsson, E. (2016) ‘Framing Crisis’. Paper presented at the SRA-E Open Chapter, Göteborg.

Enarson, E., & Morrow, B. (1998). The Gendered Terrain of Disaster: Through Women's Eyes. Praeger, Westport Conneticut.

Enarson, E., & Meyreles, L. (2004). International perspectives on gender and disaster: differences and possibilities. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 24(10/11), 49-93.

Enarson, E., Fothergill, A., & Peek, L. (2006). Gender and disaster: Foundations and directions. In H. Rodriguez, E. L. Quarantelli, & R. Dynes (Eds.), Handbook of disaster research (pp. 130-146). New York: Springer.

Ericson, M. (2011) Nära inpå : maskulinitet, intimitet och gemenskap i brandmäns arbetslag. Göteborg, Department of Sociology, University of Gothenburg.

Ericson, M. and U. Mellström (2016) ‘Firefighters, technology, masculinity in the micro-management of disasters: Examples from Sweden’. In E. Enarson and B. Pease (eds) Men, masculinities and disaster. Routledge, pp 165-174.

Giritli Nygren, K., & Olofsson, A. (2014). Intersectional approaches in health‐risk research: A critical review. Sociology Compass, 8(9), 1112-1126.

Giritli Nygren, K., Öhman, S., & Olofsson, A. (2017). Doing and undoing risk: The mutual constitution of risk and heteronormativity in contemporary society. Journal of Risk Research, 20(3), 418-432.

Hervik, P.  red. (2019) Racialization, racism and anti-racism in the Nordic countries. London: Palgrave.

Olofsson, A., & Rashid, S. (2011). The white (male) effect and risk perception: Can equality make a difference?. Risk Analysis: An International Journal, 31(6), 1016-1032.

Olofsson, A., Öhman, S., & Giritli-Nygren, K. (2014). (O)avsiktliga konsekvenser av riskkommunikation vid extraordinära händelser: Skogsbranden i Västmanland 2014. Östersund, Sweden: Forum för Genusvetenskap, Mittuniversitetet.

Wester, M, (2012). Risk and Gender: Daredevils and Eco-Angels. In Handbook of Risk Theory: Epistemology, Decision Theory, Ethics, and Social Implications of Risk. Roeser, S., Hillerbrand, R., Sandin, P. & Peterson, M. (eds.). Dordrecht: Springer, p. 1029-1048

Öhman, S., Giritli Nygren, K., & Olofsson, A. (2016). The (un) intended consequences of crisis communication

Imagining (and preparing for) disaster in the anthropocene

Recently, the notion of Anthropocene has made its way into the humanities and social sciences. It seeps into academic discussions about our historical, contemporary and future ways of living, destabilizing traditional distinctions such as those between nature and culture, local and global, present and future, us and them. As noted by Lidskog and Waterton (2016), the Anthropocene represents a new phase in the history of both humankind and of the earth, when natural forces and human forces become intertwined, so that the fate of one inflects the fate of the other. Accordingly, the Anthropocene ranks among the most important scientific programmes of the past 15 or 20 years and it might even become the new metanarrative of the twenty-first century (Chernilo, 2017). This metanarrative implicates a new universal “we” loaded with knowledge, responsibility and agency (Lidskog & Waterton, 2016:403). Hence, through the lens of Anthropocene we must specify the particular influence of human action on the earth system, and account for the relationships between the scientific and the political in regards to our actions (Chernilo, 2017:45). This panel invites participants to explore our understanding of disasters through a lens of Anthropocene. On an overarching level, we may ask if the notion of Anthropocene is or may become a relevant analytical tool within the transdisciplinary field of disaster studies. (What) does the Anthropocene add to previously established metanarratives, as for example Ulrich Beck´s (2009)  idea that we are now living in a global risk society, characterized by transboundary or de-localized risks, or is the Anthropocene just old wine in new bottles? Moreover, in what ways do our resent insight into our human impact on, and responsibility for, the earth´s ecological systems (resulting in extreme climates and increasing disasters) influence our imagination of possible futures and our means of preparing for those futures? Does thinking about future disasters through a lens of Anthropocene change our ways of preparing for and responding to such events? Has the Anthropocene brought about a change in our relationship to the natural world, which affect our ways of imagining future disasters? As noted by Tiessen (2018), if the great acceleration of ecological destruction we are currently living through only began during the past century or two, then, our relationship to the natural world and to ourselves is one that can change drastically across times and spaces (p. 81).


Mikael Linnell, Mid Sweden University, Östersund, Sweden


Chernilo, D. (2017) The question of the human in the Anthropocene debate.  European Journal of Social Theory, 20(1), 44-60.

Lidskog, R. and Waterton, C. (2016) Anthropocene – a cautious welcome from environmental sociology? Environmental Sociology, 2(4), 395-406.

Beck, U. (2009) World at Risk. Polity Press.

Tiessen, M. (2018) Our Anthropocene: Geologies, biologies, economies, and new pursuits of profit and power. Space and Culture, 21(1), 72-85.

Imagining civil preparedness

There is a current trend in Sweden and other welfare states to promote individual preparations as a way to build societal resilience. The ongoing shift of transferring responsibility for security and wellbeing in extraordinary circumstances stand in need of critical analyses of why, when and how politics of responsibility emerge. Thus, understanding and explaining how states prepare for war and crises and how they engage and involve their citizens in the overall preparation requires critical attention and analysis. Military exercises and recruitment, civil contingency plans and simulated performances becomes intimately interrelated in policy. More so, there is a growing body of preparedness imperatives expressed through popular culture (such as podcasts, literature, films, TV-shows), many times with the ambition to ‘foster’ us as prepared and resilient citizens. Thus, discursive configurations and metaphors play an important role in the communication and powerful images provided by the state that advance feelings of insecurity and self-reliance rather than collective responses. Obviously, individualizing security may operate through a wide set of logics or rationalities and the panel aims to explore different routes and trajectories in order to understand how specific schemas of security have come to emerge. The overall purpose of the panel would thus be to facilitate a critical discussion on the content, logics, temporality and arguments for increased preparedness among the population. The panel also wish to explore the implications of preparations that seem to reinforce militarized notions of sovereignty, implicate gender roles and identities that operates on capability or vulnerability, and thereby opens up questions for state-citizen relationship in the face of crises, disasters and wars.

This panel welcomes papers that explore the multiple and varied ways in which “preparedness” operates and speaks to dominant discourses of security provision. From these cases, the panel aims to explore what civil preparedness means and how it operates in the spaces between the past, the present and the future.


Oscar Larsson, SLU, Uppsala, Sweden
Linda Kvarnlöf, RCR, Mid Sweden University, Östersund, Sweden
Mikael Linnell, RCR, Mid Sweden University, Östersund, Sweden
Sophie Kolmodin, RCR, Mid Sweden University, Östersund, Sweden

On the epistemology of crises and disasters

The increasing and constantly evolving wickedness of extraordinary events requires sophisticated methodologies, agile and nuanced enough to adapt to a shifting societal context. What is more, the interdisciplinary character of crises, emergencies, and disasters, not to mention the teams researching them calls for methodological pluralism. In this panel, we take a pragmatic methodological approach. Pragmatism addresses the “so what” and the “what does it matter” of research and “…unstiffens all our theories, limbers them up and sets each one at work” (James, 1907/2014, p. 63). It offers the bridge from theory to practice and considers the practical implications on the ones who are being researched. Encompassing elements from positivism and constructivism, it allows for the usage of both qualitative and quantitative methods, depending on the kind of data collected. In this panel, we welcome papers addressing methodological issues in disaster, crisis, and emergency management research, regardless the orientation of the method itself or the data collected. We especially welcome innovative research designs such as experimental, interpretative or narrative, in addition to mixed methods and survey research.


Jörgen Sparf, RCR, Östersund, Sweden
Evangelia Petridou, RCR, Östersund, Sweden


James, W. (1907/2014). Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking Retrieved from

Organizational learning and change during the "Blue Skies"

The challenges posed by disasters can be an impetus for organizational change. Organizational change has
been defined as a process during which organizations move from a state to another to increase their
performance (Jones, 2013) and sometimes this passage can be planned or unplanned. Disasters can uncover
organizational needs that require improvement. Organizations might take advantage of these “blue skies” to apply lessons learned and, in order to boost their adaptive capacity, they may update their organizational
processes, internal structure, supply chains and other external networks. Furthermore, they may engage in
reflection and foster organizational learning in order to better prepare, respond and cope with future hazards, which may be different or more complex.

Below are examples of the types of questions this panel aims to explore:

  1. How do organizations integrate lessons from previous disasters during the blue skies?
  2. How do they increase their adaptive capacity to new threats and emergencies?
  3. How do they re-arrange or improve their organizational structures?
  4. How do they reconfigure their infrastructure?
  5. Do they integrate new forms of technology in order to improve their ability to respond?
  6. What role does organizational storytelling play in boosting resilience during the blue skies?
  7. How do organizations ensure that their networks and supply chains become more resilient?
  8. How effective is the creation of disaster partnerships and alliances in boosting adaptive capacity?
  9. How is crisis knowledge managed in between disasters and how does this affect resilience?
  10. How effective are different forms of training in boosting preparedness? Is there a difference between perception and actuality?

For this panel we invite submissions that analyze how organizations learn and change during quiet times in an interdisciplinary fashion; the aim is to gather empirical and theoretical works from a broad range of disciplines that include, but are not limited to: Organizational Sciences, Disaster Management, Crisis Management, Humanitarian Studies, Information and Data Management, Facilities Management, Engineering, International Relations, Military / Defense, Police / Security, Water Management, Geology, Public Policy and Public Administration, Political Science, Sociology, Anthropology, Leadership Studies, etc.


Paolo Cavaliere, University of Delaware, Newark, USA
Femke Mulder, Vrije University, Amsterdam, Netherlands


Jones, G. R. (2013). Organizational theory, design, and change. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Paths towards a Healthy Future: Exploring the intersection of climate change, migration, and vulnerability

Extreme events and climate change adversely and disproportionality affect socially vulnerable populations. These impacts range from forced migration, water scarcity, air pollution, exposure to hazard risks, and inequality in food systems and nutrition. Elite groups maintain power over extraction of natural resources—and this system perpetuates exploitation of labor in poor communities and nations. While outcomes from disasters highlight the disparities in social and economic systems, social movements and community interventions offer solutions in transforming the future of human-environmental issues. This panel is a collection of studies that highlight potential solutions in pathways towards wellbeing. It also includes an examination of social movements and interventions from a scholarly perspective. These studies include research in migration and refugees, perceptions of the school climate strike, infant nutrition, and grassroots disaster mitigation.


Sarah E. DeYoung, Disaster Research Center, University of Delaware, Newark, USA

Post-apocalyptic dystopias and disaster studies: Crossdisciplinary perspectives on environmental challenges today

This panel aims to strengthen a dialogue between utopia/dystopia as a literary genre and disaster studies by discussing post-apocalyptic narratives while addressing climate change, disasters, resilience and displacement.

Post-apocalyptic utopias and dystopias show humans in constant evolution, coping with the end of the world, in extreme environments where it is essential to survive. Likewise, the social sciences have developed post-traditional and post-rational thinking, relating risks and disasters to societies in which every actor brings a different perspective. Radical reconfigurations of social, political, cultural and environmental factors are presented in an attempt to govern the complexity of human beings.

Understanding a disaster requires a comprehensive analysis of the historic, symbolic, affective, and sometimes religious background that characterizes the relationship between a community and its surroundings. In this sense, the notions of imaginaries, local narratives and memories play an essential role in understanding catastrophic scenarios.

For this panel, we invite papers that focus on interdisciplinary debates with a clear linkage to post-apocalyptic literature, including but not limited to approaches on climate change adaptation, socio-environmental risks, resilience, displacement, solidarity, social change and ethics in disasters. Moreover, we strongly encourage contributors to intersect theoretical frameworks and empirical scenarios, including insights into literature and contemporary debates on disasters.


Paola Spinozzi, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy
Matias Barberis Rami, University Of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy

Rethinking disasters and social change: Beyond hope and despair

What is the capacity for disasters to produce responsible social change? The productive potentials of disaster are expressed in promises of ‘building back better’, celebrations of disaster communities, commitments to learning and greater democracy. But how can we theorise capacities for responsible social change in the context of the devastation being wrought by apparently interminable crises such as climate emergency, mass extinction or conflict? And in the context of repeated denial of responsibility for disasters, refusal to learn, and exploitation of disasters for political power or financial gain? And with global politics that encourage the concentration of political and economic power, and indeed the provocation of emergencies for political ends?

A ‘politics of hope’ (Freire, 1992) has often been proclaimed as a positive counterweight to a politics of critique whose analysis of the structural perpetuation of suffering invites despair or fatalism. Recent scholarship, however, has questioned the adequacy of ‘hope’ as a guide to responsible action. Osborne (2018) argues that ‘hope’ has been already annihilated by the fact of living through the disasters knowingly occasioned by neoliberal economic policies and environmental pollution. Hope becomes ‘cruel optimism’ when the only route to potential justice for disaster-affected persons is to commit to an almost unwinnable fight (Fortun, 2008; Berlant, 2011). Hope has a theological flavour, a belief that something better must be possible because ‘good’ must prevail. But is ‘hope’ a necessary commitment in the work of risk mitigation or disaster recovery?

This panel takes up the invitation to think beyond the ‘progress narrative’ and ‘salvation’ implied by ‘hope’, to consider alternative ways of theorising responsible agency after disasters (Tsing, 2015). It explores ways of thinking about positive action beyond the binaries of hope/despair, optimism/pessimism, and success/failure. What if successes and failures coexist? What if we theorise a condition of ‘thriving with disaster’, of ‘staying with the trouble’ (Haraway, 2016), rather than, or alongside, pinning our survival on an idealised future? This panel aims to update our theories of positive social change and responsible human agency for contemporary dystopian times, to encourage supportive action without relying on utopian hope.


Flora Cornish, London School of Economics & Political Science, London, UK
Nimesh Dhungana, London School Of Economics & Political Science, London, UK


Berlant, L. G. (2011). Cruel optimism. Duke University Press.

Fortun, K. (2009). Advocacy after Bhopal: Environmentalism, disaster, new global orders. University of Chicago Press.

Freire, P. (1992). Pedagogy of Hope: Reliving Pedagogy of the Oppressed. A&C Black.

Haraway, D. J. (2016). Staying with the trouble: Making kin in the Chthulucene. Duke University Press.

Osborne, N. (2019). For still possible cities: A politics of failure for the politically depressed. Australian Geographer, 50(2), 145–154.

Tsing, A. L. (2015). The mushroom at the end of the world: On the possibility of life in capitalist ruins. Princeton University Press.

The interplay of crisis and art

Since the 1980s, art and culture have, on a global scale, been considered to be a means to economic development and revitalization of distressed urban areas (Comunian, 2009; Florida, 2002a;b; Lloyd, 2006; Zuckin, 1982; 1989), while in the EU they are seen as a way towards territorial cohesion in peripheral rural regions (Petridou and Ioannides, 2014). However, art itself rarely functions as the telos of such arguments; rather it remains a means to some end. In this panel, we seek to further investigate the role of art in (contested) urbanscapes, We build on existing literature (see, for example, Leventis, 2013; 2017; Leventis, Ioannides and Petridou, 2015) and invite papers seeking to understand, how art (including street art) may inform, anticipate or reflect changes to the urban landscape and social fabric of the city during times of crisis. Further, we call for investigations into the interplay of art and the contextual factors of space and crisis.


Evangelia Petridou, RCR, Östersund, Sweden
Dimitri Ioannides, ETOUR, Östersund, Sweden
Panos Leventis, Drury University, Springfield, MO, USA
Todd Lowery, Drury University, Springfield, MO, USA


Comunian, R. (2009), ‘Questioning creative work as driver of economic development: The case of Newcastle-Gateshead’, Creative Industries Journal, 2: 1, pp. 57–71.

Florida, R. (2002a), ‘Bohemia and economic geography’, Journal of Economic Geography, 2: 1, pp. 55–71. ____ (2002b), The Rise of the Creative Class, New York: Basic Books.

Ioannides, D. , Leventis, P. & Petridou, E. (2016). Urban Resistance Tourism Initiatives in Stressed Cities : The Case of Athens. In: Reinventing the Local in Tourism: Producing, Consuming, and Negotiating Place.A. P. Russo and G. Richards, (eds). Bristol : Channel View Publications, pp. 229-250.

Leventis, P. (2013). Walls of Crisis: Street Art and Urban Fabric in Central Athens, 2000-2012. Architectural Histories 1 (1), Crisis Issue, EAHN, pp 1-10.

Leventis, P. (2017). Dead Ends and Urban Insignias: Writing Graffiti and Street Art (Hi)Stories along the UN Buffer Zone in Nicosia. In Graffiti and Street Art: Reading, Writing and Representing the City, K. Avramidis and M. Tsilimpounidi (eds.), Routledge, pp. 135-163.

Lloyd, R. (2006), Neo-Bohemia: Art and Commerce in the Postindustrial City, New York: Routledge.

Petridou, E. and Ioannides, D. (2012), ‘Conducting creativity in the periphery of Sweden: A bottom-up path towards territorial cohesion’, Creative Industries Journal 5: 1+2, pp. 119–137, doi: 10.1386/cij.5.1-2.119_1

Zukin, S. (1989), The Culture of Cities, Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Zuckin, S. (1982), Loft Living,New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University

Towards what futures? The political dimensions of sustainable development and resilience

Different concepts used in political and policy processes can be understood as the interstices, where the formulation of possible futures takes place. Two such concepts with great relevance over later years (1980s and onwards) is sustainable development and, with increasing importance lately, resilience. This panel focuses on two issues related to the formulation of possible futures through these concepts. The first issue concerns how the concepts are used, with what connotations and impacts in political and policy processes? These concepts are not neutral but pliable constructions that can be used for different political purposes. Concepts with mainly positive connotation such as sustainable development and resilience can be very powerful political concepts as they, through their lack of precision and flexibility, can facilitate political agreements without the mess of agreeing on detailed measures etc. At the same time these properties also mean that they are less efficient when it comes to implementation in administrative settings. The second issue has to do with the value rationalities and power relations underpinning the mainstream conceptualizations of sustainable development and resilience. In the research literature several competing conceptualizations of sustainable development and resilience have emerged. Explicitly or implicitly, these entail different priorities in terms of values and norms. Each conceptualization is also based on distinctive assumptions about what is need to reach what is defined as positive futures. In light of this, it becomes important to discuss questions such as: where are we currently going? Why? Is this development desirable? For whom? Who gains and who loses from this, and by which mechanisms of power?


Mikael Granberg, The Centre For Climate And Safety (CCS), Karlstad, Sweden
David Olsson, The Centre For Climate And Safety (CCS), Karlstad, Sweden
Tove Bodland, The Centre For Climate And Safety (CCS), Karlstad, Sweden