Newsletter 58

VOL. 16, N°. 57, DECEMBER 2015 – MARCH 2016



I am glad to be able to present to you this 58th DCSCRN Newsletter.


Welcome to the April edition of the DCSCRN Newsletter, which covers the period December 2015 – March 2016.


Please join us in welcoming new DCSCRN members.


Messages from DCSCRN members.


Studies by DCSCRN members and colleagues.


Calls and upcoming events.


Reports on recent events.


About the newsletter.


Antti Antti Silvast

Dear Members, Colleagues and Followers of the Disaster, Conflict and Social Crisis Research Network,

Welcome to the 58th Newsletter of the European Sociological Association (ESA) RN08: Disaster, Conflict and Social Crisis (DCSCRN).

Recent events all over the world and warnings by risk experts of the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) remind us of the importance of our work with analysing disasters, understanding their causes and effects, and recommending policies on their mitigation. The DCSCRN, by definition, is a research network that encourages the research of natural disasters – such as those raised by the UNISDR – but moreover various technological and social disasters such as emergency population movements, financial crises, and threats against critical infrastructures. By so doing, we aim at contributing to disaster resilience all over the world and preventing, and mitigating, the various effects that such disasters provoke.

We attain these organisational goals in a number of ways. Among them, primary has been extending our membership in order to include diverse geographical regions, research interests, institutions, and professional backgrounds in our members. We aim at increasing ties to individual members but also to other institutions about disaster, conflict, and social crisis that are most welcome to contact us for exchanges. To join as an individual member, please visit this page – our membership is free-of-charge and has no obligations, but you will automatically receive our communications including this newsletter as a member.

In addition to these formal and informal communications and publishing this newsletter that gathers our members’ research, our main way of finding new members is through organizing conferences. The network plans and pursues paper sessions in conferences of the European Sociological Association, whose part we formally are, but also in between them in more focused interim events: including a Conference on Emergency Population Movements that is planned in Ankara, Middle East Technical University, for next fall. Please find more information in the Announcements section of this newsletter. During the past five years, indeed, we have managed to be highly active in all of these fronts as a research community.

While the DCSCRN hence belongs to a sociological association, it is not meant exclusively for sociologists. A quick look on recent scholarship reminds us that natural, technological, and social disasters, conflicts, and crises span multiple disciplines and research interests: including but not limited to urban planning, public health, human geography, science, technology and innovation studies, environmental research, social theory, demographics, and many others. For a long time, when organising conferences and their sessions, the network has maintained a comprehensive starting point to such different interests; or as our former coordinator, whose helpful comments I acknowledge, explained to me, we have always aimed for an open-minded, inclusive, and cross-boundary stance.

But inevitably, such extending of our scope and field generates a further question: what distinctive intellectual contributions can we make amid various research and policy interests on similar topics? As a participant in our sessions in the ESA conferences during several years, I can offer a few suggestions.

For one thing, the study of disaster, conflict, and crisis has deeply entrenched traditions and paradigms. Such paradigms do change as we all know, but there are yet valuable lessons from this history of earlier scholarship. Our one potential contribution could be establishing links between disparate research topics and disaster research. To draw on just a few examples from our past conference events, the study of demographics is enriched by understanding the effects of financial crises and vice versa, public discourse can appropriate the concept of “disaster” in interesting ways that become a resource in struggle for power, and issues about energy production are also often imbued by social conflicts. To those who sometimes treat disasters as an entirely novel research topic or site – which they are most welcome to do – we can perhaps as a community provide a sharp focus on what disaster research of the past 60 years has already achieved, aspired to study, and cumulated knowledge on.

A second potential way to advance this contribution could be digging deeper into this history to discover nuances. The origins of disaster research in e.g. the United States are well-documented. At the same time, unexplored issues remain in how disaster research was construed differently in other settings. For example, recently a German colleague and I have been exchanging information about the existence of a distinct German tradition of sociology of disasters, which drew upon other founders of disaster research especially from the United States, but was often only published in German and intimately linked with German sociological debates. Similarly, I know of key empirical and conceptual openings on anthropology of catastrophes that have, at least since recently, been mainly available in French. In some countries like Finland, the main institutions that analyse disasters and publish information on them are government branches and to some extent non-governmental organizations, while academic disaster researchers are spread in various disciplines from sociology to communication and business studies, working under those communities.  These are all possible and valuable ways to conduct disaster research – and their ways of exchanging information between academic and policy challenges are merely one among many other faciliations. Indeed, for me, these examples provoke curiosity about numerous local academic traditions within disaster research and – more practically – on the useful toolpacks that they have produced to understand disaster, conflict and social crisis and raise awareness of these topics. Against this backdrop, we should welcome all efforts to connect between our European and international research communities and local academic traditions, where they exist.

I leave you with the newest edition of the newsletter, which I hope reflects again our commitment to open-minded and inclusive stance but also embedding these concerns on the foundations of disaster research. Pleasant reading and yours,

Antti Silvast
DCSCRN Coordinator


20151201_1400551Jakub Lewandowski

Researchers always do their best to be up to date with the most recent either institutional and/or individual forms of disaster management. This Newsletter reflects these efforts. Thus, first and foremost, if you want to share experiences and insights on the current European refugee crisis, we strongly recommend you to look at the details of the upcoming conference organised by the DCSCRN and our Middle East Technical University partners from Ankara (see: Announcements). Due dates will be confirmed soon, so please do not omit this section! Moreover, an invitation given by John Twigg also touches upon similar issue so anyone having something to say about European refugee crisis can get more information how to do it in the From Our Members section.

One should not forget, however, that disaster responses are also socially constructed. Two sides to this story are therefore presented. On the one hand, you may be interested in the paper by Andrea Volterrani on the role of voluntarily organizations helping elderly and disabled people before and during disasters (see: Publications section). On the other hand, looking at motivations behind some of individual disaster responses can be somewhat counterintuitive. Summary of recent studies and description of new research inititatives are another reasons why you should look at the Reports section.
Last but not least, I am very happy to inform you that our DCSCRN Members’ list is gradually growing and experienced researchers are always more than welcome (see: Web Manager’s Note). At the same time, research on disasters needs constant development and sharing is crucial here. Thus, if you have any material relevant to our research network, please do not hesitate to inform us about it in the future!

This issue covers the period of December 2015 – March 2016. I believe you will find it interesting. If you want to contribute or help us in any other way, you can send a message to our mailbox:[at] or directly to me: jakub.lewandowski22[at]


Please  join  me  in  welcoming  the  following  new  DCSCRN members:

Xinheng Wang, Professor in Networks, University of the West of Scotland, has interests in social media for disaster management.

As  of  April  2016,  the  DCSCRN  has 293 members of  who  45  are  paying  ESA  members. The  up-to-date list of all members is available at


John Twigg, University College London

I am involved in a Council of Europe project on “Migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in the context of major risks prevention and management”. We want to know more about:
(a) the new risks and vulnerabilities which these groups face as a result of their displacement, migration and settlement in new countries;
(b) actions to overcome these problems that are being taken by formal civil protection organisations, other government agencies, civil society organisations and informal or emergent groups
(c) principles and approaches for “good practice” in this area at policy, planning and operational levels

We are particularly interested in experiences from the current European refugee crisis, but evidence from comparable events in different parts of the world would also be welcome. All suggestions and contributions are welcome, but we need them as soon as possible.  Please contact me at


How to Build Prevention for the Elderly and Disabled before Natural Disasters? The Added Social Value of Voluntary Organizations in Europe

Andrea Volterrani

In disaster situations, such as floods or earthquakes, the elderly and people with disabilities are particularly vulnerable and require additional attention. However, they are often neglected in existing municipal disaster emergency plans, particularly when such people live alone instead of in a care institution as their location is often undetermined in disaster situations or the information exists (e.g. if the people receive social services or if neighbours are aware of people in need in their vicinity) but is not structured in a way that is usable for civil protection emergencies. Up-to-date information for helpers and a community that is aware of this particular challenge for disaster relief can alleviate this problem. The paper presents the first results of the research action carried out by a joint partnership (universities/Italian, German and Danish voluntary organizations) highlighting: 1) which aspects are relevant for identifying the condition of vulnerability of the elderly and disabled; 2) how to develop a system for vulnerable people in integrated risk management mechanisms through local networks and volunteers; and 3) what is the added social value of volunteering in prevention and support for the elderly and disabled and the contribution to strengthening the resilience of local communities.

The article has been published in the journal Sociology and Anthropology under Creative Common licence. To read the full paper, please follow this link


European Sociological Association (ESA) DCSRCN RN08 Midterm Conference, Ankara October, 2016

logo_midterm Ankara

On behalf of all Members of the DCSCRN Coordinating Committee and especially of Local Organizational Committee from Middle East Technical University (METU) we are very pleased to inform you that the upcoming midterm conference will be held in Ankara, Turkey. The conference theme will be ”Emergency Population Movements”.

Conference panels will concentrate on specific topics declared but these are embedded within: a) factors and circumstances influencing decision of migration, b) attributes of travel and displacement processes, and c) conditions and challenges at place of destination.

METU Local Organizational Committee are doing their best to fix the dates as soon as possible, and it is most likely to be held in the late of October. Full information about specific topics, registration fees are available at: You can submit your presentation (paper, poster or other relevant materials) directly via the conference website.

Organising Committee:

Murat Balamir, Prof. Dr. METU City and Regional Pl. Dept.; ESA DCSCRN representative
Sibel Kalaycıoğlu, Prof. Dr. METU Dept. of Sociology Chairwoman
Eugenia Petropoulou, Dr. University of Crete
Helga Rittersberger Tılıç, METU Prof. Dr., METU Dept. of Sociology
Antti Silvast, Dr. University of Edinburgh
Besim Can Zırh, Assistant Prof. Dr. METU Dept. of Sociology

Executive Scientific Committee:

Nermin Abadan Unat, Prof. Dr. Boğaziçi Un. Political Sci. and Int. Relations
Mine Eder Prof. Dr. Boğaziçi Un. Political Sci. and Int. Relations
Ayşe Gündüz-Hoşgör, Prof. Dr. METU Sociology Dept.
Sibel Kalaycıoğlu, Prof. Dr. METU Sociology Dept.
Aytül Kasapoğlu, Prof. Dr. Hacettepe Un. Sociology Dept.
Ayhan Kaya Prof. Dr. Boğaziçi Un. International Relations
Ilan Kelman, Dr. University College London
Kemal Kirişçi, Prof. Dr. Brookings Institution
Belkıs Kümbetoğlu, Prof. Dr. Yeditepe Un. Anthropology Dept.
Barbara Lucini, Dr. Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
Nicholas P. Petropoulos, Dr. DCSCRN Founder and Advisor, Pedagogical Inst. Greece
Helga Rittersberger Tılıç, Prof. Dr. METU Sociology Dept.
Gülay Toksöz Prof. Dr. Ankara Un. Labor Economics Dept.
Şule Toktaş, Prof. Dr. Kadir Has Un. Poitical Science Dept.
John Twigg, Dr. University College London
Martin Voss, Professor Dr. Freie Universität Berlin

See you all in Ankara!

The fourth Åre Risk Event conference

It takes place in Åre, Sweden, on June 14–16 2016. The topic of this year’s conference is Resilience – Opportunities and Challenges for Societal Crisis Management and Individual Safety.

The program comprises lectures and scientific presentations. Among the keynote speakers are Professor Dilanthi Amaratunga, head of the Global Disaster Resilience Centre at the University of Huddersfield; Kristin Baja, Climate and Resilience Planner with the Office of Sustainability at Baltimore City; and Dr. Chris Zebrowski, lecturer in Politics and International Relations at Loughborough University and assistant editor of the journal Resilience: International Policies, Practices and Discourses.

The Åre Risk Event is organized by Risk and Crisis Research Centre at Mid Sweden University. The conference aims at gathering researchers, practitioners, and delegates of private, public, and volunteer organizations for the exchange of knowledge and experiences. The program is geared towards participants with an interest in resilience, security, and risk and crisis research / management. Register before April 19 for reduced fee, and by May 24 at the latest. Read more and register at 


The new EU project, called ASCENT (Advancing Skill Creation to ENhance Transformation) Aims to Reduce Impact of Disasters

Over 30 experts from across Europe and Asia met in Colombo, Sri Lanka, to launch a new project funded by the European Union to strengthen research and innovation capacity for the development of societal resilience to disasters. The four-day meeting concluded on Thursday 17th March, will provide a basis for a three year workplan.

The project will support training, skills, leadership development, international collaboration and university-industry partnerships. It will strengthen the ability of higher education to respond to research needs in disaster resilience. It will also empower individuals and organisations with the skills, competencies and credentials needed to continue to pursue research, and to lead research at institutions, aimed at reducing the impact of disasters.

ASCENT is co-funded by an EU Erasmus+ programme grant of €994,000.00, will run for three years and is led by the University of Huddersfield’s Global Disaster Resilience Centre, based in the UK. They are joined by a consortium of 13 European and Asian higher education institutions from the Bangladesh, Estonia, Lithuania, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Thailand and the UK.

“Asia experiences the most disasters globally and a major contributory factor to disaster risk is capacity. Asian countries need to improve their capacity to produce knowledge domestically and absorb the knowledge produced elsewhere”, Professor Amaratunga from the Global Disaster Resilience Centre at Huddersfield, said. “At the same time, there is a need for higher education to undertake and communicate high quality and policy relevant research.”

Over three years, the ASCENT consortium will identify research and innovative capacity needs across Asian higher education institutions in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Thailand to tackle the development of societal resilience to disasters. It will develop research infrastructure, prepare researchers to undertake advanced, world-class and innovative, multi- and inter-disciplinary research, and increase international cooperation among higher education. It will also explore, promote and initiate opportunities for fruitful university / industry partnerships. In doing so, ASCENT will provide the link between the research and the public, helping to reinforce the connection between education and society.

The project was inspired by the Sendai Framework for Action 2015-2030, signed by 187 UN member states in March 2015, as a 15-year, voluntary, non-binding agreement which recognises that the State has the primary role to reduce disaster risk but that responsibility should be shared with other stakeholders including local government, the private sector and other stakeholders.

The Framework identifies that international, regional, sub-regional and transboundary cooperation remains pivotal in supporting the efforts of States, their national and local authorities, as well as communities and businesses, to reduce disaster risk.

The first phase of ASCENT will involve a detailed analysis of existing capacity for disaster resilience among higher education in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Thailand. This will provide the basis for future capacity development activities.

For further information on the ASCENT project, contact Professor Dilanthi Amaratunga ( and Professor Richard Haigh ( or visit the website at

The ASCENT project consortium receives financial assistance from the European Union. The European Commission support for the project and its associated activities and outputs does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

What scientists can do to mitigate floods more effectively? Workshop on stakeholders engagement at the household level

Jakub Lewandowski, Adam Choryński

Examination of the climatology of past flood events indicates general trend towards intensified frequency and magnitude of intense precipitation and river floods. Scientists argue about effectiveness of structural vs. non-structural measures, however. Moreover, future climate change projections exhibit high uncertainty. Thus, local experts and practitioners raise the question “yes, adapt but… for what?”.

Adaptation responses are therefore those of highest uncertainty (Wilby & Dessai, 2010). During the workshop organized in Nowy Targ, 20,000 inhabitans Polish foothill city, researchers and practicioners met in order to validate usefulness of their scientific knowledge on one hand and share their local expertise on the other. The venue was organized to establish connection between research and practice. Ideally, this would involve scientific, administrative and non-state stakeholders.

Private owners also take individual measures in order to mitigate future hydrometeorological events. Of course, person-related variables such as age, education or previous flood experiences can influence mitigative/adaptive activity, but what happened to be crucial factor is an activity taken by somebody else. Briefly speaking, imitating neighbour’s behaviour can be most important when decreasing flood risks individually, regardless of personal belief about effectiveness of these activity. Thus, on one hand, these activities have been considered as bottom-up initiatives that could be communicated to and administered by local or regional authorities. On the other hand, legal framework for these private initiatives is lagging and this makes some of them illegal. At the same time, mitigative and adaptive efforts can be beneficial for many passive private owners, causing free rider or oven spillover problems. In this sense, one of the conclusions proposed was to create economic incentives rather than to rely on the rule of law.


The FLORIST project (Flood risk on the northern foothills of the Tatra Mountains) is realised between July 2011 and will last until June 2016 by international Polish-Swiss consortium. The project focuses on the assessment of flood hazard and related risk in the area of the northern foothills of the Tatra Mountains which is the highest range of massive of the Carpathian Mountains located in central Europe at the border between Poland and Slovakia.

Disaster risk financing: practices and challenges in the light of a global OECD survey

The book provides an overview of the disaster risk assessment and financing practices of a broad range of economies relative to guidance elaborated in G20/OECD Framework for Disaster Risk Assessment and Risk Financing. It is based on survey responses provided by 29 economies, as well as research undertaken by the OECD and other international organisations, and provides a global overview of the approaches that economies facing various levels of disaster risk and economic development have taken to managing the financial impacts of natural and man-made catastrophes. Click here to read the full publication.


This is the periodic electronic newsletter of the Disaster, Conflict and Social Crisis Research Network (DCSCRN). The purpose of the DCSCRN is to promote the study, research and analysis of “natural”, “technological” and “social” disasters with a view to contributing to the development of disaster resilient European communities, and preventing or mitigating the human, economic, social, cultural and psychological effects of crises and disasters.

The DCSCRN Electronic Newsletter is published three times a year (April, August, December). The previously published newsletters are accessible at the network’s webpage:

Announcements of conferences, book, film, and CDROM reviews, reportage on conferences, disaster diaries, brief articles on best or worst practices in disaster prevention and recovery, commentaries on disasters and crises, human interest stories relevant to disasters, etc. should be sent electronically to the editor, Jakub Lewandowski ( no later than the first of the month of publication. Contributions to the newsletter should preferably be written in a concise format (½-1 page long maximum) in order to make reading comprehensive albeit focused. Ideas should be referenced (Author, year), but there is no need for a complete reference list.

Relevant contributions from the field of disaster, conflict and crisis research, as well as from applied disaster, conflict and crisis management practice, are most welcome!

All “signed” texts express the opinions of the authors and not necessarily those of the coordinators, the editor or of the DCSCRN.

Antti Silvast, DCSCRN Coordinator
Eugenia Petropoulou, DCSCRN Vice Coordinator
Jakub Lewandowski, E-Newsletter Editor

Comments are closed.