Disaster vulnerability in anthropological perspective

Disasters have occurred throughout human history, but due to climate change and human activity, they have become more frequent and intense. Anthropology has made significant contributions to the understanding of disaster vulnerability by examining the complex interplay between social, cultural, and environmental factors. Anthropologists have emphasized the concept of social vulnerability, which refers to the ways in which social inequalities and power relations make some groups more vulnerable to disasters than others. Anthropologists have also highlighted the role of culture in shaping disaster vulnerability, as traditional livelihood practices and gender roles can contribute to vulnerability. Additionally, anthropologists have emphasized the idea of historical vulnerability, which refers to how past events and processes shape present-day vulnerability to disasters.

Anthropologists have called for a holistic approach to disaster vulnerability that recognizes the interplay between environmental, social, and cultural factors. This approach involves working with local communities to identify their specific vulnerabilities and develop appropriate solutions. Anthropologists have also shown how disasters can reveal the complex ways in which humans interact with their environment and how disaster experiences are shaped by cultural and social factors.

Anthropology plays a crucial role in disaster management by providing a unique perspective on disasters. Anthropologists can identify social and cultural factors that contribute to vulnerability and help to develop strategies that address underlying factors and build community resilience. Additionally, anthropologists can help to understand local cultural beliefs and practices in disaster response and develop effective communication strategies that take into account local cultural and linguistic diversity.

Studies by Hoffman and Oliver-Smith (2002) and Oliver-Smith (1996) have emphasized the importance of anthropologists in identifying social and cultural factors that contribute to vulnerability and understanding local cultural beliefs and practices in disaster response. According to a study by Gaillard et al. (2010), effective communication is crucial in disaster management, and anthropologists can play a key role in developing culturally appropriate communication strategies.

Overall, anthropology has made significant contributions to the understanding of disaster vulnerability and has an essential role to play in disaster management. Disaster management practitioners should collaborate with anthropologists to develop effective disaster management strategies that take into account local beliefs, customs, and practices.


Bullard, R. (2005). The environmental justice implications of Hurricane Katrina: A review of five years of disaster. Environmental Justice, 1(1), 47-54.

Cannon, T. (1994). Vulnerability analysis and the explanation of “natural” disasters. Disasters, 18(4), 321-328.

Cutter, S. L. (2003). The vulnerability of science and the science of vulnerability. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 93(1), 1-12.

Gaillard, J. C., Liamzon, C. C., & Villanueva, C. M. (2007). GIS and remote sensing for disaster risk reduction and management: A review of the literature. Disaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal, 16(3), 323-332.

Gaillard, J. C., Pangilinan, M. R., & Cadag, J. R. (2010). Communicating disaster risks through local people's knowledge: Coproducing a flood early warning system in the Philippines. Area, 42(2), 198-209.

Hoffman, S. M., & Oliver-Smith, A. (2002). Anthropology and disasters: An introduction. Disasters, 26(1), 1-18.

Oliver-Smith, A. (1996). Anthropological research on hazards and disasters. Annual Review of Anthropology, 25(1), 303-328.

Oliver-Smith, A. (2009). Introduction: Anthropology and disasters. In A. Oliver-Smith & S. M. Hoffman (Eds.), The anthropology of disaster


Popular posts from this blog