Disasters, Cultural Changes and Power Relations

The proposed panel aims to understand the dynamicinterrelationship between disasters and cultural changes, giving a special attention to the power relations that are affecting and are affected by. I myself, as the chair, would present my work on the eruption and cultural changes on the slope of Mt. Merapi.

Disaster has important roles in social-cultural changes to the local people who are directly or indirectly effected by. The ongoing social-cultural changes could trigger disasters as well. Basically, the panel would view disaster and social-cultural changes as interrelating to one another. On one side disaster could trigger or accelerate social-cultural change; and on the other side social-cultural change could generate disaster. We may also say that nature, particularly through disaster, controls culture. Meanwhile, the technology developed by human could control, to some extend, the disaster or its effects for the human being. Fundamentally, nature and culture are interconnected system that relates and influences each other. This paradigm posits holistic understanding of the human position in the whole ecosystem and also takes oppositional position to Cartesian dichotomies, such as culture-nature, society-environment, mental-material.

The relations between political power and disaster responses are indeed a very important point that should be investigated. For example, in Indonesia, a very high inequality in terms of economic and access to life resources forces many communities to live in highly vulnerable areas, such as hills, riversides, waste disposal areas, and other slum areas. Those who have no access to adequate housing usually have no access to other basic needs either. Thus, their ability to survive a disaster becomes very insufficient.

As a disaster-prone country, disaster studies are very crucial in Indonesia. By revealing the dynamic interrelationships between disaster and culture – how disasters can alter human history, including how it raises certain public policies, and how such policies can change the environment or even be one of the disaster causes – this panel would give important contribution in formulating public policies related to environment, disaster and natural hazard in holistic form.

Panel coordinator:

Muzayin Nazaruddin (Islamic University of Indonesia)


  1. Disasters, Cultural Changes and Power Relations [Muzayin Nazaruddin]
  2. The Social Construction of Disasters: The Gap Between Policy Maker and People [Ahmad Arif]
  3. Interpretation and Action of Islamic Organizations: 
As Responses of Yogyakarta Earthquakes 27 Mei 2006 Nahdatul Ulama, Muhammadiyah dan Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia [Fathimatuz Zahra]
  4. The risks are on your on hand: Identifying, Managing and Communicating the Health Impacts of Man Made Disasters from Bombana Artisanal Gold Mining, in Southeast Sulawesi, Eastern Indonesia [Fitrilailah Mokui]
  5. Culture and Collectivity in Times of Floods: Community Experiences and Resilience Building to Flood Disasters in the Greater Surakarta Area, Indonesia [Rizki Fillaili]
  6. Mengungsi sebagai Momen Festival: Sebuah Konstruksi Ruang-Waktu Adaptasi Alternatif [Yasin Yusup]