Interview Philosophy Video Interviews

The Ethnography of Disasters
An Interview with Sandrine Revet

by David Bornstein & Florent Guénard , 18 June 2012
translated by Michael C. Behrent
with the support of Institut français (vidéo)

For Sandrine Revet, we need to move beyond statistics to see the ethnographic side of disasters. It is a necessary step if we are to understand their effects not only on public policies, but also on the behaviors and beliefs of the populations they affect. In the following interview, she examines the current revival in Disaster Studies and explains how they have come to be structured as a field.

Sandrine Revet is a Fellow Researcher at Sciences-po. Her dissertation, published in 2007 as Anthropologie d’une catastrophe. Les coulées de boue de 1999 au Venezuela (Presses Sorbonne Nouvelle), looks at the social, political and cultural dynamics accompanying a natural disaster which occurred in this country in 1999.

Sandrine Revet is a member of the editorial boards of Cahiers des Amériques latines and Critique Internationale, and of the Disaster and Social Crisis Research Network. She co-founded the Association pour la recherche sur les catastrophes et les risques en anthropologie [Anthropological Research on Disasters and Risks Association] (ARCRA) and is an Associate Researcher in the Groupe de sociologie politique et morale (EHESS).

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Transcription by Stéphanie Mimouni; subtitles by Ariel Suhamy.

by David Bornstein & Florent Guénard, 18 June 2012

Further reading

 See on La Vie des idées, our dossier on Le sens des catastrophes [The Meaning of Disasters]

 Sandrine Revet, “Penser et affronter les désastres : un panorama des recherches en sciences sociales et des politiques internationales,” Critique internationale, 2011/3 n°52, p. 157-173.

 Julien Langumier et Sandrine Revet, “Une ethnographie des catastrophes est-elle possible ? Coulées de boue et inondations au Venezuela et en France,” Cahiers d’anthropologie sociale, n°7, 2011.

To quote this article :

David Bornstein & Florent Guénard, « The Ethnography of Disasters. An Interview with Sandrine Revet », Books and Ideas , 18 June 2012. ISSN : 2105-3030. URL :

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