There's No Such Thing as a Natural Disaster

Anja Hemmingsen - Natural Disasters

One year after Hurricane Katrina, geographer Neil Smith wrote “there’s no such thing as a natural disaster”, arguing that disasters, regardless of their environmental origins and impact, are socially produced phenomena. Such causes, from fundamentally changing the topography of the region to the organized abandonment of low income neighborhoods, became evidently clear in the days following the storm.


To say something is natural, an ‘act of nature’, or the ‘will of God’, erases this social history, and in so doing removes culpability from those who cause disasters while shifting the risk and responsibility of the aftermath onto communities who are impacted the most. What lessons do we learn when we decouple ‘natural’ from ‘disaster’? How does this project, both geographic and historical, help us recognize patterns in the ways that disasters form over time?


Using examples from Hurricanes Katrina and Maria, this Olio will unpack several antagonistic social relationships: capital vs. climate, the State vs. citizens, and capital vs. citizens, that not only create the conditions for ‘natural’ disasters, but extend far beyond the single event. We will discuss how disasters, while decades in the making, do not have to be inevitable.




Location: Nowadays

56-06 Cooper Ave, Ridgewood, NY 11385

Trees, ping pong, checkers, grass to lie in, fresh air, and the occasional passing freight train.




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Sep 18

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Sep 19

* Sold Out * OlioTrip | Cienfuegos, Cuba

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10 a.m. at Cienfuegos, Cuba

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Sep 23

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Taught by Lauren Hudson
7:30 p.m. at The Old Stone House

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Sep 26

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Taught by Kashema Hutchinson
8 p.m. at Living Room

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Sep 29

Olio FieldTrip | Skateboarding and Modern Art

Taught by Ted Barrow
1 p.m. at Living Room

Sign Up - $30

Oct 4

Modern Privacy: Reclaiming Our Self Narratives

Taught by Lawrence Cappello
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

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Oct 15

Olio Seminar | Kafka will Ruin Your Life and Make You Laugh About it

Taught by Geoff Klock
7:30 p.m. at Strong Rope Brewery

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Oct 22

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Taught by Jeanne Proust
7:30 p.m. at Threes Brewing // Greenpoint

Sign Up - $15


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