RCSSCI 371 - Natural Disasters in East Asia
Section: 001
Term: WN 2019
Subject: RC Social Sciences (RCSSCI)
Department: LSA Residential College
Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

In recent years, the world has come to witness what appears to be an unprecedented level of destruction caused by a series of devastating natural disasters that have leveled entire cities, taken the lives of hundreds of thousand of people, and displaced even more. Stoking the popular imagination with dramatic images, the global media has come to depict hurricane Katrina, the 2004 Indian ocean tsunami, the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, the 2010 Haiti earthquake, and most recently the tsunami that hit northeastern Japan as the work of an unpredictable, uncontrollable, and essentially chaotic force.

Although true in some respects, this way of understanding earthquakes, tsunamis, and other events tends to obscure the social, political, and historical side of these so-called “natural” disasters. When, in fact, did we begin to regard these events as the work of “nature” as opposed to, say, God or some other supernatural agency? On what basis do we classify a certain event as a “natural” disaster? Can we ignore the influence of class, ethnicity, education, and power on the making and outcome of these disasters? This course will bring these and other questions to bear on the historical and comparative study of natural disasters in East Asia and elsewhere.

Intended Audience:

There are no prerequisites for this course, but some background in the history and culture of East Asia is recommended.

Class Format:

Two 90-minutes meetings weekly

RCSSCI 371 - Natural Disasters in East Asia
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM
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