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The concept of “disaster” has been subject to discussion among anthropologists. In its proper sense this notion refers to a sudden, calamitous event causing a serious disruption of the society: typically an earthquake or a flood. But in disaster studies it encompasses a wider array of events such as terrorist attacks, epidemics, plane crashes, as well as territorial remodeling, reservoir projects, migrations, and settlement projects for nomadic ethnic groups. Researchers have indeed identified common reflection points and social dynamics that can be object of comparative analysis in these various cases. This international workshop aims to gather researchers involved or interested in such a perspective. In order to widen our view, we propose to introduce the notion of “upheaval”, which is less negatively connoted while sufficiently open to embrace various cases of big changes (planed, expected, abrupt), affecting or not the territory, but either way strongly disrupting a population. The goal is to examine this theme from an anthropological point of view. Upheavals are necessarily related to a constellation of social and cultural factors and contexts in which they are embedded. Researches focus on the social vulnerability such events reveal as well as on the risk issues, historically and structurally inserted in local contexts and people’s life. Case studies take into account the overall context, consider the historical and cultural background and emphasize the progress of processes before, during and after the event. Focusing on the micro-sociological scale allows a better understanding of the dynamics at work, of people’s perceptions and representations of the event. It also facilitates the identification of responses and resonances these events produce, both in terms of practices and discourses, in the post-traumatic settings and reconstruction processes. The ethnological perspective goes beyond the entanglement of local and global economic and politics’ power layout, to fully seize these issues embodied in social actors. This international workshop emphasizes on this crucial investigation method and on ethnography in the study of disasters and upheavals, their conditions of production, the specificities of their outbreak, the interpretations they stimulate, the responses they generate in the physical and social world as well as the potential effect on people’s social representations. The workshop ambition is to offer an academic platform for comparative cross-society and cross-culture reflections arising from detailed cases, and for proposing prospective useful concepts and theory frameworks. Its objective is to deepen the fundamental research on disaster and upheaval as anthropological objects, but also to offer intellectual tools for applied anthropologists and disaster professionals involved in improving sustainability and dealing with the difficulties and challenges brought by such contexts.

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