As I watched Hurricanes Harvey and Irma surge through the Gulf of Mexico, I got to thinking about the environmental, historical, political, and academic context for these “megastorms.” We can easily add Sandy, Katrina, Rita, Irene, Andrew, Matthew and various other “natural” catastrophes to this list. This year, in particular, we can expand our view of disasters to include flooding in Southeast Asia which have killed over a thousand people and displaced a million and the fires in Montana that have caused millions of dollars in damage and covered the western U.S. in smoke.
Among the more intriguing developments in recent years has been to put together syllabi that allow the public to explore the complexity of recent events. These syllabi are often generated quickly and produced by collectives of scholars and public intellectuals and have accompanying hashtags. The best known of these being the #StandingRockSyllabus and the #CharlottesvilleSyllabus.
I rarely do this on the blog, but I am wondering what a #HurricaneSyllabus would look like?
My interests are historical rather than climatological or even strictly environmental, and, as a result, I’m interested in the historical circumstances that shaped the impact of these events and their local and global contexts. My instinct would be to divide the syllabus into five weeks:
Week 1: The environmental context for Harvey and Irma.
Week 2: The geographic context for storms: settlement, economics, race, and history.
Mike Davis, Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third World. London 2017.
Jared Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Chose to Fail or Succeed. New York 2014.
Week 3: The storm timeline: preparation and first responses.
Week 4: Rebuilding
D. Haeselin, Haunted by Waters: The Future of Memory and the Red River Flood of 1997. Grand Forks 2017.
Anthony Loewenstein, Disaster Capitalism: Making a Killing Out of Catastrophe. New York 2017.
Week 5: History and Archaeology of the Storms
M. Bagwell, “After the Storm, Destruction and Reconstruction: The Potential for an Archaeology of Hurricane Katrina” Archaeologies 5 (2009), 280-292.
S. Lee Dawdy, Patina: A Profane Archaeology. Chicago 2016.
Timothy H. Ives, Kevin A. McBride & Joseph N. Waller, “Surveying Coastal Archaeological Sites Damaged by Hurricane Sandy in Rhode Island, USA” The Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology (2017), 1-23.
Obviously my syllabus has some massive gaps, but please help me flesh this out in the comments section below or with the Twitter hashtag #HurricaneSyllabus.