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Introduction: framing catastrophes archaeologically

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  • Felix Riede
  • Payson D. Sheets, Univ Colorado, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Colorado System, CASA, United States
“Catastrophes are never natural; they occur when an extreme event—or a compound series of these—impacts an at-risk community. Communities are at risk when access to resources is limited or unevenly distributed or when political structures or cultural norms prevent effective and equitable responses. Such inequalities or inadequacies always have a history. They generate socially produced vulnerabilities. Hence, understanding vulnerability and its important counterpart resilience requires an attention to deep history. In many parts of the world, however, the actual written historical record is short and patchy and often only reflects the limited perspectives of literary and urban elites. In contrast, the archaeological record reflects the material conditions of past lives and livelihoods and can inform us about past vulnerability and resilience anywhere in the world. Many parts of the world are experiencing rising frequencies of disasters including extreme events of a nature or magnitude that have long recurrence intervals. In such cases, little or no local memories inform disaster responses. In other cases, traditional peoples maintained oral histories of disasters and salutary behavior to mitigate losses. Unfortunately, such oral history has often been lost when colonization occurred. This book catalogues a wide and diverse range of[…]”
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGoing forward by looking back : archaeological perspectives on socio-ecological crisis, response, and collapse
EditorsFelix Riede, Payson Sheets
Number of pages15
Place of publicationNew York
PublisherBerghahn Books
Publication yearSep 2020
ISBN (print)978-1-78920-864-1
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-78920-865-8
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020
SeriesCatastrophes in Context

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