Disaster Culture: Knowledge and Uncertainty in the Wake of Human and Environmental Catastrophe

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Left Coast Press, Nov 1, 2010 - Business & Economics - 311 pages
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When disaster strikes, a ritual unfolds: a flood of experts, bureaucrats, and analysts rush to the scene; personal tragedies are played out in a barrage of media coverage; on the ground, confusion and uncertainty reign. In this major comparative study, Gregory Button draws on three decades of research on the most infamous human and environmental calamities to break new ground in our understanding of these moments of chaos. He explains how corporations, state agencies, social advocacy organizations, and other actors attempt to control disaster narratives, adopting public relations strategies that may either downplay or amplify a sense of uncertainty in order to advance political and policy goals. Importantly, he shows that disasters are not isolated events, offering a holistic account of the political dynamics of uncertainty in times of calamity.
  

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Contents

Abbreviations
8
Acknowledgments
9
Introduction
11
1 A Sea of Uncertainty
19
2 Uncertainty and Social Conflict over Animal Rescue
45
3 What You Dont Know Cant Hurt You
71
4 Damaged by Katrina Ruined by Murphy Oil
89
5 Knowledge Withheld
109
7 Mediated Disaster Narratives
149
8 Contested Knowledge
167
9 The Production of Uncertainty
177
10 Sequestered Knowledge
193
11 A Gulf of Uncertainty
209
References
251
Index
289
About the Author
311

6 What We Dont Know Cant Hurt You
127

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About the author (2010)

Dr. Gregory Button is a nationally recognized expert on disasters who has been studying extreme events for over thirty years. As a reporter and producer for public radio he covered and reported on the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, the controversy surrounding Love Canal and the eruption of Mount St. Helens. He has also been a U.S. Congressional Fellow in the Senate. He currently a faculty member in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; Director of the Center for Disasters, Displacement, and Human Rights; and a Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Social Justice.

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