Jaarcongres Keynote 1: Tim Soens

Prof. dr. Tim Soens

De eerste keynote van ons Digitale Jaarcongres Meer dan Menselijk Verleden: Historici, Eco-geschiedenis en Environmental Humanities op donderdag 19 november wordt verzorgd door prof. dr. Tim Soens. Soens is als hoogleraar Middeleeuwse en Ecologische Geschiedenis verbonden aan het Centre for Urban History van de Universiteit Antwerpen. Hij is gespecialiseerd in de geschiedenis van natuurgevaar en -rampen tot 1850, met speciale aandacht voor overstromingen en water management. Zoals het gehele ochtendprogramma is ook zijn keynote in het Engels.

We have never been vulnerable. Inequality as common ground between COVID-19 and flood disasters – Tim Soens

COVID-19 is a global health crisis and climate change is threatening the basic conditions of life itself. We are living in times when popular and scientific discourse on natural hazards and disasters is pervaded by universalising narratives, conceiving nature (again) as a force beyond human control which, time and again, endangers human livelihoods. Yet, as the history of natural disaster invariably shows: we have never been vulnerable, only some people living in specific conditions are. In this talk Soens will highlight the crucial importance of inequality as a key to understand the production and impact of natural disasters. Delving into the history of major flood disasters in the North Sea Area, striking inequalities in the social profile of the victims are revealed. Moreover, the flood disasters themselves tend to be associated with growing socio-economic inequalities, socially and physically separating those who profited from the environmental benefits from those burdened with the costs of increased risks. The unfolding history of COVID-19 unfortunately tells a similar story.

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