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How are social inequalities manifest in this disaster?

Friday, April 10, 2020 - 9:37am

The onset of a disaster has different implications for every individual and community affected by it. This is to say that the occurence of a disaster of any kind doesn't affect all people in the same way and there is thus a need to take into account the specificities of people's experiences in understanding the extent and effects of the disaster itself. It may contribute to the continuing persistence of social inequalities, or create new inequalities while getting rid of others. Furthermore, social inequalities are deeply involved in the manner in which aid is (not) recieved by the state and other institutions, which is contingent also upon the nature of the State, in the formulation of policy and measures. How does privilege come into the picture? What can be considered a privilege? How do measures such as social distancing in India for example have deep implications for society by virtue of the existing social inequalities that function along the same lines of restriction and exclusion? If one were to take the example of the 'shock doctrine' then this too has different consequences for the rich and the poor in how they negotiate with such economic reforms and the 'clean slate', because a clean slate also implies erasure. A disaster thus acts both ways, in erasing some lines that are drawn in society as well as in creating new ones, in how the same act of disaster has a variety of implications. 

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In what ways are science and technology implicated in the disaster?

Thursday, April 9, 2020 - 5:23am

Science and technology provide us with the tools to study and understand the causes and outcomes of a disaster. This is particularly also in the context of the creation of new knowledge systems. These new knowledge systems may manifest in varied forms, be it in the form of disaster capitalism that operates on replacement of existing institutions with new ones or on the other hand, the manner in which reconstruction is undertaken for the reconstitution of old systems as mentioned in the article on the shock doctrine. Shock therapy essentially consists of sweeping market reforms in one fell swoop, which leads to a complete dismantling of existing systems giving rise to the creation of new systems. In a similar vein, the fact that science and technology studies essentially deals with societal dynamics as well, it becomes deeply implicated in the way a disaster is understood, defined and managed by different institutions and actors. In making a case for Disaster Science and Technology, technoscience allows for the navigation through emerging systems of knowledge in the aftermath of disasters in providing a critique or analysis of these occurences. The operation of politics is also deeply intertwined with the way technoscientific knowledge systems are understood and how disasters are recognised. Science provides a visualisation according to Jasanoff, but the way these visualisations are percieved and understood become techniques that influence public understanding of occurences, in this case- disasters. 

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