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Organised by the Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS)

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Latin America and the Caribbean are on the front line against escalating numbers of disasters. Comprised largely of countries classified as developing, these regions are likely to face some of the highest casualties and costs as climate change intensifies the frequency and impact of extreme weather events. Latin America and the Caribbean are the most indebted regions in the developing world and according to the IPCC’s sixth assessment report disasters are fifteen times more likely to kill those in developing nations. This multidisciplinary conference aims to bring together, amongst others, academics, NGOs, civil society representatives and activists to discuss disasters and relief past and present with a view to forming connections that will facilitate novel approaches to mitigating and reducing this risk. 

This rising risk is not one of natural happenstance, however. It is one borne both from centuries of colonial extraction and international debt obligations that drain the resources to fund both resilience building efforts and the cumulative costs of recovery. Even when external help has been provided to these regions, as exemplified by efforts in 2010 and in 2017 following the Haitian earthquake and hurricanes Irma and Maria respectively, recovery from these events has typically been fraught and often uneven. External actors have responded to disaster with a short-termist and financialised approach often enriching themselves at the expense of those they are providing ‘relief’ to.

We must then, understand both disasters as not entirely natural and relief as not inherently apolitical. They are products of interactions between natural phenomena and historical, social, and political forces. It follows then that to face the challenge we must bring a broader range of voices commensurate to this range of factors. This multidisciplinary conference aims to do just that.  


Wednesday 19th October 2022

2-2.15pm GMT: Welcome

2:15pm – 3:45pm GMT: Disaster and Colonialism 
Chair: Oscar Webber (CLACS)

Matteo Lazari (University of Naples Federico II), Moving Ciudades in colonial Guatemala: Earthquakes and Volcanic Eruptions in a longue durée perspective from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Century
Domenico Cecere (University of Naples Federico II), Patterns of communication and emergency management policies in 17th century Peru
Aprajita Kashyap (Jawaharlal Nehru University), Colonial Legacy in Brazil: Implications for the Environment
Ian Seavey (Texas A&M University), Hurricane and Hegemony: U.S. Army Disaster Relief in Puerto Rico, 1899-1900

3:45pm – 4:00pm 15-minute break

4pm – 5:15pm GMT: Responses to Disaster from Below
Chair: Yairen Jerez Columbié (Trinity College Dublin)

Princesa Cloutier (University of London), Finding another way out of the darkness; looking to alternate electrical systems and their role in Puerto Rican disaster mitigation and decolonization
Ayesha Siddiq, Maria Jose Montoya, Martha Bell, Rafael Mendoza (University of Cambridge), Disasters as Inequality or Inequality as Disasters? Flooding and power in small town Peru

Thursday 20th October 2022

2pm – 3:15 GMT: State and Institutional Responses to Disaster
Chair: Rupert Knox (CLACS)

James Shepherd-Barron (Fordham University), ‘The Calculus of Calamity - Lessons from Haiti and Domenica'
Ignacio Rioserazo (University of Chile), The Underestimated Role of Natural Disaster Litigation. The 2010 Chilean Earthquake Case
Allison Baker (University of California), “The Eco-socialist Contract”: Cuban State Narratives, Hurricane Responses, and Popular Participation, 1989-2018

3:15pm – 3:30pm 15-minute break

3:30pm – 5:00pm GMT: Generational, Spatial, and Emotive Experiences of Disaster
Chair: Elizabeth Chant (University of Warwick, CLACS)

Ian Bethell-Bennett (University of the Bahamas), Confabulations of recovery: Irma and Dorian in Bahamian Space
Yairen Jerez Columbié (Trinity College Dublin), Hurricane Culture: Interrogating and decolonising climate resilience through Caribbean knowledge and practices
Victoria Carpenter (University of Bedfordshire), You’re Not in This Alone: Recovery Narratives after Hurricane Mitch

5:00pm – 5:30pm: 30-minute break

5:30pm - 6:30pm GMT: Keynote 

June Carolyn Erlick (Editor-in-Chief of ReVista, the Harvard Review of Latin America at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies)

6:35pm - 6:40pm GMT: Concluding remarks

Download Programme pdf

All are welcome to attend this free conference being held online, starting at 14:00 GMT (UK Time) on Wednesday 19 October 2022. (Please be sure to check your local time). You will need to register in advance to receive the online joining link. Please click on the Book Now button above to register.
Download guidance on participating in an online event (pdf)

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