This collection of essays testifies to the profound impact that earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and other such events have had on humans throughout history in every part of the world. Several contributors argue that the experience of catastrophe has changed humans' behavior and perceptions over time without necessarily reducing their degree of exposure or risk. The book includes case studies from Western Europe, Scandinavia, Algeria, the Middle East, China, India, the Philippines, Argentina, Mexico, and the East Coast of the United States, ranging from the medieval through the modern period. While natural disasters occur around the globe, different cultures, societies, and regions have adopted specific methods and technologies for managing local hazards and for surviving catastrophic natural events. Indeed, how humans deal with catastrophes depends largely on social and cultural patterns, values, belief systems, political institutions, and economic structures. The roles that natural disasters play in society and the meanings they are given vary from one political and geographic space to the next. The essays collected here help us to understand not only how people across the centuries have learned to cope with disaster but also how communities in different parts of the world have developed cultural, social, and technological strategies for doing so.
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