Jan 19 Interrogating the “Accident”

Ludwig Meidner

Ludwig Meidner

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

Last week we started thinking about the nature of historical knowledge and started our introduction to trauma and disasters. Before we jump into the historical record in Japan, this week we will read some recent thoughts on the very category and concept of “disaster” and “accident.” Once again, 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.


Read the Hegel first.

  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, introduction and conclusion