Reviewer VIRG9656 | Review

#299 #Nãofoiacidente: The political meaning of the nature|culture dualism in the context of recent dam collapses in Minas Gerais / Brazil

Coresponding author's contact details

First name Theresa Middle name Last name Mentrup
Title MA Organization / Institution University of Mainz Department Anthropology and African Studies
Address Forum universitatis 6 Postal / Zip code 55099 Country DE
E-Mail Hidden Phone number Hidden Presenting author Yes

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Abstract title

#Nãofoiacidente: The political meaning of the nature|culture dualism in the context of recent dam collapses in Minas Gerais / Brazil

Abstract text

In recent years, Brazil has suffered two mining tragedies: the dam collapse of “Mariana” on November 5, 2015 and the “Brumadinho dam disaster” on January 25, 2019. Although both resulted in death, devastated livelihoods, and poisoned their surrounding environments with tons of toxic mud, they were framed rather distinctly. Whereas politicians labeled the former an “environmental accident,” the latter was primarily addressed as a “humanitarian catastrophe.” In contrast, the coronavirus pandemic, for instance, has not been called a ”disaster” or “catastrophe” at all. Against this background, this paper aims at re-thinking the differentiation between so-called “natural” and “man-made disasters” (cf., e.g., Barrios 2017) in anthropological disaster research, (public) policy, and practice. By analyzing newspapers’ framing and anthropological examinations of the incidents (cf. Taddei 2020), it sets out to unravel the political implications of the nature|culture dualism and the role of science in its (r)evocation. What political consequences emerge from the different ways in which these disastrous occurrences are addressed? To what extent does such labeling pre-structure political, legal, and administrative responses? To what extent are these responses met by counter-narratives and resistance? And what is the role of science in general and anthropology in particular in shaping these debates? Tackling these questions, this paper argues in favor of destabilizing the notion of an essential difference between types of “disaster.” To this end, it enquires into the visual and rhetorical epistemologies by which “disaster imaginaries” (cf. Calhoun 2010) are brought into our everyday life by the media, politics, and science.

Conference topic

Panel no. 100 - Exploring the Gap Between Knowledge, Policy and Practice. Contributions to Anthropology of Disaster & Climate Change Worldwide with Special Stress on the Global South  

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Abstract Review

This abstract was reviewed on 2021-01-13 9:29h by VIRG9656

Reviewer decision