How do we encounter a disaster?

Perhaps a better question is when do we encounter a disaster? In parts of the world with access to twenty-four hour news media, our first awareness of disaster usually comes from video imagery and descriptive reporting, either in the moment of a disaster, or in its immediate aftermath. Events unfold in front of us, in real time; we encounter disaster in the present.

As we watch our television or computer screens, or listen to our radios, our own sense of safety may be highlighted, along with a ghostly sense of the unpredictability of disaster, of threat. In the same moment as we absorb mediated messages, and perhaps feel lucky to not be on the other side of the screen, we are also thinking about those who are unlucky, because they happened to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

What if, however, we were to ask questions about predictability, and about luck? Why do some parts of the world seem to have many more ‘wrong places’ and and ‘wrong times’ – and many more ‘unlucky’ people? These are some of the questions we will explore here, and we hope you will be interested in thinking with us.

Our goal is for this website to become a learning resource for anyone interested in finding out about the history and representation of global disasters.

We will keep a record of the activities taking place November-December 2014, and add further resources over time.