In our first seminar of the year, Dr. Jason von Meding, UON Senior Lecturer from School of Architecture and Built Environment, presented on ‘Disaster or Deviance’.
It was a valuable and insightful talk. Jason has a background in engineering and construction, yet his research interests align closely with those in Geography. With his research focussing on disaster management, international construction, humanitarian relief, human rights and building the capabilities of non-government organisations in dealing with these emergencies.
Abstract for the seminar:
While humans are the main cause of risk creation, we also hold the key to risk reduction. In this world of accelerating change and increasing volatility, if we do not deviate from existing norms, cycles, structures and orthodoxies, one disaster after another may be inevitable. Risk is embedded and produced in a neoliberal society, while vulnerability and structural injustice underpin disaster impacts. The most marginalized are invariably the worst affected. For all the noise about ‘human progress’, we have not yet made significant inroads to reducing risk in society. Meanwhile, our planet is on life support and profit continues to trump all other motives for those holding power. Hope is not lost, however, and people around the world are finding ways to undermine injustice through resistance and disobedience. We are at a critical point in history where we must now choose disaster or deviance.
Jason also presented on the development of a film and writing project in this vein emerging from his recent sabbatical in South East-Asia.
We’re very grateful to Jason for taking the time to speak. Not only does his work inform how to better break down barriers that are faced by organisations in managing disaster recovery, it also highlights the crossover of ideas from other disciplines.