Chair Disaster Studies

Natural disasters and violent conflicts affect the lives of a great number of people across the world, especially in developing and fragile settings. Within the SDC Group, we aim to understand how disasters and conflicts come about, how they affect people, and how they transform societies.

The chair Disaster Studies was created at Wageningen University in 1997 at the initiative of the “Stichting Nationaal Erfgoed Hotel De Wereld”. It has focussed on the interface between disaster, conflict and development, understanding conflict and disasters as both interfering with and integral to contemporary processes of development and social change.

Our research and teaching addresses the dynamics of disasters and conflicts as well as the responses before, during and after these crises, including disaster preparedness, disaster management and risk reduction, humanitarian aid and post-conflict reconstruction. We contribute to a thesis track in Disaster Studies within the MSc International Development Studies. At the Bsc level we offer multidisciplinary minors on Disaster and Recovery and on Freedom from Hunger.

Key interests in current research and teaching include:

  • Disaster politics and securitisation
  • Societal resilience
  • Forced displacement and the refugee regime
  • The humanitarian arena
  • Urban risk and complexity
  • Institutional multiplicity and everyday forms of state formation in/after conflict
  • Post-conflict land governance.

We theorise on the specific nature of crisis events and the disruption they produce but also on the continuities between 'crisis' and 'normality'. We focus on social practice and policymaking and how these are interrelated. We are strongly interested in ‘what actually happens’: how different actors cope with crisis situations and their aftermath, how they seek to create order and control risk, and how this impacts social reordering, redistribution of resources, and the sense of belonging.