Author: Gregory Button
Author info: Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Publication Date: November 2010
Publisher: Left Coast Press
Synopsis: When disaster strikes, a ritual unfolds: a flood of experts, bureaucrats, and analysts rush to the scene; personal tragedies are played out in a barrage of media coverage; on the ground, confusion and uncertainty reign. In this major comparative study, Gregory Button draws on three decades of research on the most infamous human and environmental calamities to break new ground in our understanding of these moments of chaos. He explains how corporations, state agencies, social advocacy organizations, and other actors attempt to control disaster narratives, adopting public relations strategies that may either downplay or amplify a sense of uncertainty in order to advance political and policy goals. Importantly, he shows that disasters are not isolated events, offering a holistic account of the political dynamics of uncertainty in times of calamity.