This volume is compiled from selected texts and presentations delivered at the
International Conference “Ethnography of Disasters”, which took place in May 2021
in Sofia, in the premises of the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies at the
Bulgarian Academy of sciences. The conference was implemented within the project
“Local Disasters and the Quality of Life: Cultural Strategies in Coping with
Natural, Technological and Biological Disasters”, funded by the Bulgarian National
Science Fund 2018–2022 (DN 20/5: 11.12.2017 – 09.06.2022). The scholar event
was designed to bring together scholars from different fields of humanities and social sciences to initiate an interdisciplinary discussion on historical and contemporary research on different categories of disasters – natural, biological and technological – but also to address disaster management, recovery, evacuation and mobility, and their cultural implications in local, national and global contexts. The Forum presented research on disasters and catastrophes with different foci: studying the ways in which cultural belief systems, behaviours, institutions, and stereotypes specific to a group or society put at the centre of the catastrophe befalling that society, susceptibility/vulnerability, preparation, mobilisation, prevention and recovery. Everyday culture, locally and as a whole, contains cultural mechanisms (peculiar programs or strategies) by which disaster is triggered or facilitated, as well as met, in order to respond.
The pandemic of COVID–19, which occurred in the early 2020s, has created
new aspects and contexts in disaster studies, which has inevitably affected not only
their methodology but has also broadened their thematic circles.
The collection contains four parts that bring together different research issues
and interdisciplinary techniques of inquiry and analysis. Part I, Approaches to Disaster Studies, includes texts that focus on specific methods in thematic studies of disasters in the past and present. Part Two, Fieldwork Research and Local Disasters, offers a variety of local investigations and features fieldwork across a wide spatial range. The third part, entitled Disaster Containment and Management, brings together different cases of coping with disasters and overcoming their effects as a result of the efforts of different communities, institutions, and organizations. The fourth part, Ethnography of a Global Disaster – COVID-19, is devoted to research on the COVID-19 pandemic and reflects a palette of current research issues.
The authors in this collection are responsible for the content of their texts, the
correct spelling of sources cited, and the use of copyrighted material.
It was a challenge for the initiators and editors to create this compilation of diverse
perspectives on the emerging topic of “Ethnography of Disasters.” We hope that the collection will make an initial but continuing contribution to the development of research on this topic and will draw scholarly, public, and institutional attention to the issues discussed.
We thank the BNSF for the opportunity to make the Project, the International
Conference and its publication possible!