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tippingpoints

IHRR’s Tipping Points project has now published its fourth annual report. It provides recent updates on the multiple strands of its research that combines different fields in the physical and social sciences, and arts and humanities. The project has generated a tremendous amount of academic research investigating the many different kinds of tipping points in banking, climate change, human behaviour, health, financial regulation and many others.

This reports provides updates from the project including the following research topics:

  • Tipping points in British banking
  • Climate research in the North Atlantic
  • Modelling complex systems
  • Diffusion of ideas
  • Critical transitions in art and literature

We are exploring and producing a variety of ways of disseminating this research, and welcome any feedback or questions about the contributions the project has made to better understanding tipping points in nature and society.

Download the report

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Ground crack induced by fault reactivation during the 2010 earthquake near Santiago. © Sergio Sepulveda

Dr Sergio Sepulveda from the University of Chile is visiting Durham University as a Cofund Senior Research Fellow through the Institute of Advanced Study, to work with the International Landslide Centre at IHRR that is led by Professor Dave Petley and Dr Nick Rosser from the Department of Geography. Sepulveda is from Chile, one of the most seismically active parts of the world that regularly experiences earthquakes, landslides, debris flows, volcanic eruptions and other geohazards.

Sepulveda is a leading researcher on landslides in South America and is well-known in the field. Most of the fatalities caused by natural hazards in South America are from earthquakes, floods and landslides that affect both urban and rural communities. Sepulveda is working closely with colleagues in IHRR to identify the vulnerability of populations in Latin America and the Caribbean to landslides, in order to acquire a better understanding that would lead to developing measures to help reduce fatalities, and is testing a number of volcanic soils from Chile to understand the role they play in landslides and other hazards.

Research at Durham

Working with Prof Dave Petley, Sepulveda is studying records of fatal landslides that have occurred in Latin America and the Caribbean using the Durham Fatal Landslide Database, a global record of landslide- induced fatalities from the past 10 years. The database is a useful tool for identifying vulnerability to landslide hazards, ‘…there is a very strong correlation between population density and fatal landslides, and most of them are induced by heavy rainfall’, said Sepulveda. Along with this research Sepulveda is also studying the geomechanics of landslides themselves with Prof Dave Petley and Dr Matthew Brain. Read the rest of this entry »

Elena E. Burgos-Martínez is a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology at Durham University writing from her field site on the Celebes Sea in the province of North Sulawesi, Indonesia. Here she is living amongst the indigenous Bajo people who live a nomadic lifestyle on the sea, making them highly attune to environmental change.

The definition and contrast of concepts such as ‘culture’ and ‘nature’ do not apply in the same way across the globe. Dualities such as the environmental vs. the social, the material vs. the biological are not pieces that fit in all socio-ecological puzzles. Environmental change is perceived by the Bajo as part of the defining flux of interactions that grants social cohesion on the island and, thus, it is expected and desired.

Their social environment does not differ from the ecological one since they constantly interchange (e.g. an animated nature of ‘iblis‘ that requires collective Bajo knowledge to be understood and acknowledged). This world view relies on interactions between social and ecological forms of knowledge that cannot be isolated to a particular location. Read the rest of this entry »

There are a number of upcoming seminars in the Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience. All seminars take place from 1pm-2pm in Seminar Room 010, Dept of Geography, unless noted otherwise.

24 February – Two Approaches to Reasoning from Evidence or What Econometrics Can Learn from Biomedical Research

Professor Julian Reiss, Dept of Philosophy

3 March – Making Evolution Visible. Volcanoes and Other Tipping Points in Franz Hohler’s Apocalyptic Eco-Narratives

Professor Nick Saul, Dept of German Read the rest of this entry »

Elena E. Burgos-Martínez is a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology at Durham University writing from her field site on the Celebes Sea in the province of North Sulawesi, Indonesia. Here she is living amongst the indigenous Bajo people who live a nomadic lifestyle on the sea, making them highly attune to environmental change.

In my last post I offered a brief summary of the main environmental changes Nain Island and the Bajo have gone through during the past decades, along with studying Baon Sama (Bajo Language), which developed in the island as a pidgin of different ‘Sama-languages’ and intertwines with Manado Malay (a creole of Bahasa Indonesia and Malay spoken in Manado). New concepts are introduced that were approached differently among the Bajo: ‘nature’, ‘the environment’, ‘natural disasters’, ‘socializing networks’, ‘fishing/seaweed market’, ‘general elections’.

A mixture of black sand obtained from the bottom of the sea and a bit of cement delivered from Manado has been used through decades to turn wooden/bamboo houses into ‘stronger’ structures. Credit: Elena Burgos-Martinez

A mixture of black sand obtained from the bottom of the sea and a bit of cement delivered from Manado has been used through decades to turn wooden/bamboo houses into ‘stronger’ structures.

But the environmental, the architectural and the linguistic features of Nain Island and the Bajo are far from being independent features. As a flux of interactions through motored boats and more frequent trips to Manado increase, the social landscape continues to develop by adopting and adapting some of the concepts, ideas and understandings described above. Read the rest of this entry »

Building on the recent success of the last IHRR PG Forum, we now wish to invite all postgraduate students at Durham to the next PG Forum on Wednesday 5th February. The discussion at this meeting will focus especially on the theme of Resilience, Recovery, Psychology.

All postgraduate students with an interest in risk, hazard and resilience research are invited to participate. The title for this session is deliberately broad, and could include research on any aspect of any of these themes. The aim of the session is to consider the psychological dimensions of risk, resilience and recovery in an interdisciplinary context. We especially wish to encourage Arts and Humanities students to participate as well as students from all disciplines. Read the rest of this entry »

Elena E. Burgos-Martínez is a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology at Durham University writing from her field site on the Celebes Sea in the province of North Sulawesi, Indonesia. Here she is living amongst the indigenous Bajo people who live a nomadic lifestyle on the sea, making them highly attune to environmental change.

In 1948 different groups of ‘sea nomads’ arrive to Nain Island, known as the ‘Ninth Island’ during the colonial period. They are looking for better sources of fish, fruit, vegetables and drinking water. In a timely effort to join the ‘Indonesian National Awakening’ they settle and build houses on stilts over the white sand of Nain’s beach and call it ‘Nain Induk’ (mothership Nain).

The Bajo of Nain Island and the Celebes Sea represent what I call ‘post-indigenous’, a culture that originates in the intersection of different groups of ‘sea nomads’ who arrived to Nain Island from the regions of East Kalimatan/Makassar Strait (the Bajau), the Sulu Archipielago/Sulu Sea (the Sinama) and Central Sulawesi/Molucca Sea (the Bajoe). The terms ‘Bajau’, ‘Bajoe’ and ‘Bajo’, largely used to refer to the ‘sea nomads’ of Indonesia, are not different spellings of the same word; these names refer to distinct groups whose culture and language has been and continues to be shaped by their environment.

Bajo language (Baon Sama) and Bajo culture spread around the Celebes Sea. The coast of Manado, Aracan, Tumbak and a number of other locations become the ‘land and sea of the Bajo’ as families grow and new marriages take place. Although culture is embedded in these areas, it is not limited to a set of geographical coordinates.

Nain Induk

Nain Induk

Read the rest of this entry »

Elena E. Burgos-Martínez is a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology at Durham University writing from her field site on the Celebes Sea in the province of North Sulawesi, Indonesia. Here she is living amongst the indigenous Bajo people who live a nomadic lifestyle on the sea, making them highly attune to environmental change.

It is indeed a sturdy boat, all mangrove wood, coconut carcases and a couple of coats of paint for a more metallic display of hues. It is ready to perform to perfection, or so they say. Nothing knows the sea better than what has been made to dwell in it, archetypes of material resistance against the changing nature of the ocean. Resistance through the incessant crunching, stumbling of waves and more waves. Then a puzzle of underwater currents dancing through complex networks, cabbeling and swirls, a twitch of tides, an (un)fortunate turn and a deck of torn mangrove wood, scarred coconut, pierced aluminium and fo’c’sle scatters in floating harmony, the changing nature of Davy Jones’s locker finally sets in… At sea stillness is constantly negotiated. Just let it in.

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View from one of the Bajo houses on stills. On the horizon: Manado Tua, an ancient and dormant volcano and inhabited island.

Fieldwork is all about unleashing, unpacking, undoing and then doing again. Fieldwork belongs to the depths and there is no place for dry feet. The changing nature of our research, of our focuses, interests, of our resilient selves needs to be considered and acknowledged since the beginning. It is very likely that some of your background literature, methodological framework, methods and hypotheses will end up scattered all around you, just like lingering spume marine. Flexibility and adaptability are crucial skills and can lead to a more adequate and complete perception and understanding of the field. But nobody said these were easy matters and they often require the constant challenging of our own assumptions and those of others. By implementing a highly participatory form of research that involves social actors and other professionals around a more grounded approach can be assured, always keep one foot on the ground… and another in the water. Read the rest of this entry »

Department of Geography, Durham University, 21-22 November 2013

Keynote speakers (tbc): Prof. Pat O’Malley (Sydney)   Prof. Marieke de Goede (Amsterdam)   Prof. Rita Raley (UCSB)

The Securing against Future Events project is organizing a two-day conference on the forms and techniques of calculation that emerge with digital computation. How does the drive to make sense of, and productively use, large amounts of diverse data, inform the development of new calculative devices, logics and techniques? How do these devices, logics and techniques – from neural networks to decision trees, from Monte Carlo method to traversal algorithms, from text analytics to data visualisation – affect our capacity to decide and act?

In a world of changing data landscapes, how do mundane elements of our physical and virtual existence become data to be analysed and rearranged in complex ensembles of people and things? In what ways are conventional notions of public and private, individual and population, certainty and probability, rule and exception transformed and what are the consequences of these transformations? How does the search for ‘hidden’ connections and patterns using association rules, correlation rules or link analysis, change our understanding of social relations and associative life? Do contemporary modes of calculation, based on constant incorporation of heterogeneous elements, produce new thresholds of calculability and computability, allowing for the improbable or the merely possible to be embraced and acted upon? As contemporary approaches to governing uncertain futures seek to anticipate the yet unknown event – in domains as diverse as marketing and insurance, emergency preparedness and counter-terrorism – how are calculation and decision engaged anew?        Read the rest of this entry »

This two-day workshop at Durham University 18-19 June 2013 is organised by the Cost Action IS1101 Climate Change and Migration project led by Dr Andrew Baldwin.  The workshop will feature the following seminars and features Key Note presentations from David Theo Goldberg and Uma Kothari:

Keynote Address

David Theo Goldberg (University of California, Irvine)

Parting Waters: Seas of Movement

Uma Kothari (University of Manchester)
Colonial Representations and Island Imaginaries: Racialised Narratives of Climate Change and Migration

Biopolitical Perspectives

Julian Reid (University of Lapland)
The Biopolitics of Climate-Induced Migration

Arun Saldanha (Lancaster University)
Climate Change as Biopolitical Assemblage: How Global Capitalism Produces Racial Difference

Arne Harms (FU Berlin)
Shipwrecked Islands and Spectators: Thinking through Climate Change with Blumenberg Read the rest of this entry »

Hazard Risk Resilience Magazine Issue 2 Out Now!

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