Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Comparing vulnerabilities: Toward charting an historical trajectory of disasters

Bankoff, Greg


Greg Bankoff


Disasters have two historical trajectories, one 'natural' in that they involve one or more physical hazards and the other societal in that they are largely culturally determined. They are 'historical' in the sense that both forces change over time. Charting an historical trajectory of vulnerability allows us to compare how skilfully different communities and societies in the past managed all kinds of climatic and seismic risks. A comparative perspective that does not start with the assumption that any one culture's approach is superior to any other's encourages us to learn not only from what people did previously but from what others do now, how especially non-western societies go about disaster preparedness, mitigation and recovery in the present. Finally, comparing vulnerabilities also encourages us to see disasters as more than purely destructive events in the short term and also to consider them as transformative agents in the longer term.


Bankoff, G. (2007). Comparing vulnerabilities: Toward charting an historical trajectory of disasters. Historical Social Research ==, 32(3), 103-114.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 31, 2007
Publication Date Dec 31, 2007
Deposit Date Jul 13, 2018
Publicly Available Date Jun 26, 2020
Journal Historical Social Research
Print ISSN 0172-6404
Electronic ISSN 0936-6784
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 32
Issue 3
Pages 103-114
Keywords Disaster; World population; Urbanity; Industrial nation; Metropolis; Risk; Society; Historical analysis; Comparison; Climate change; Natural disaster; Developing country
Public URL
Publisher URL


You might also like

Downloadable Citations