About the lecture
Rarely, a day goes by without news of an earthquake devastating a city, a flood inundating a community or unprecedented temperatures afflicting a region.
The images of people losing everything – including their lives – are accompanied by reporters and politicians referring to these disasters as “unexpected” and “shocking”, but “unavoidable” and “natural” events to which we must adapt.
But are these types of disasters really “natural”? Disasters don’t just cause suffering – they expose it. Those who are most marginalised in our societies are most harmed by them. However, for them, a disaster is not a sudden or unexpected danger. It is a continuation of everyday harm inflicted on them – but framing disasters as “natural” obscures this fact.
In her inaugural lecture, Professor Chmutina will explain why, instead of being “natural” events, disasters are a reflection and a manifestation of an unjust society.
She will explore why many disaster risk reduction and resilience building efforts actually re-construct the risk and re-create – even exacerbate – inequalities that eventually lead to further disaster. She will offer ways in which we can resist disaster risk creation through dialogue, empathy and humility – as well as the recognition of our collective ties, interconnections and vulnerabilities.
About the lecturer
Professor Ksenia Chmutina – dubbed “the academic nomad who averts disasters” – is an expert in Disaster Studies who joined Loughborough University in 2011 as a Research Associate. She is Director of EDI for her School and the University’s Special Envoy for East Asia. Prior to this, she gained her PhD at The University of Nottingham, and lived and studied in Russia and China.
Ksenia’s research focuses on the processes of disaster risk creation in the context of neoliberalism, showing how disasters unveil inequalities and injustices ingrained in our society, and calls for change through solidarity and scholarly activism.
Her work brings together critical theory and participatory methodologies to generate transdisciplinary understanding of disasters as socio-political processes. Over the past decade, she has been fortunate to work in China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Nepal, Georgia, and the Caribbean, alongside academics, artists, policymakers, NGOs and, most importantly, marginalised communities.
Central to Ksenia’s activity is science communication – she is co-host of the popular podcast Disasters: Deconstructed, makes regular media appearances and writes widely for the popular press.