Sept 12 Interrogating the “Accident”

Ludwig Meidner

Ludwig Meidner

Thinking About “Progress,” “Disasters,” and “Accidents”

Next week we start thinking about the nature of historical knowledge. Before we jump into the historical, this week we will read some recent thoughts on the very category and concept of “disaster” and “accident.” Take your time and work out how each piece sets up the problem, what concepts (categories) the author uses to look at the problem, and finally what possibilities are opened up or foreclosed by those choices. Think of these concepts as looking at something with a telescope or a microscope: each would allow you to see, and cause you to not see, different things.

Readings:

  1. Introductions from last week: earthquake, tsunami, nuclear
  2. Terms: Start by learning the termsWhat kinds of radiation are there?

 

Readings for discussion on Monday 12th:

  1. Paul Virilio, “The Primal Accident
  2. Chalres Perrow, Normal Accidents (excerpts)
  3. Francois Ewald, “Two Infinities of Risk
  4. Erikson, A New Species of Trouble, chapter 4 (Three Mile Island)