Unfolding Disaster Risk Management

Ince Keller, I., Ruegg, J., & Yip, M.

Unfolding Disaster Risk Management: Exploring Relational Uncertainties of Hazard, Law and Space


The Weight of Local Geographies and Public Space
The Global Meeting on Law and Society
ISCTE University Institute of Lisbon
Lisbon, Portugal

This proposal considers risk management as a socio-material practice that changes constantly through the constitutive relations between hazard, law, and space. Relational uncertainties emerge at the core of this practice, as a product of the constantly unfolding interactions between legal/social/spatial relations. However, most scholars in different policy fields focus more on the static condition of specific uncertainties in risk management as opposed to their relational context. Physical scientists such as geologists consider uncertainties in terms of forecasting hazards by focusing on two dimensions: epistemic when it is possible to reduce the risk with more data and new hazard models, or aleatory if there are no possible ways to reduce the risk. Social scientists in contrast characterize uncertainty with vulnerability that affects people’s risk perceptions and representations. Legal scholars concentrate on uncertainties arising from the interpretive language of laws and regulations that affect risk management. Hence, in the literature, more attention is given to the causal impact of specific uncertainties, rather than their interactions.To gain broader view of uncertainties, this paper aims to understand how uncertainties are produced and dealt with through the un/seen, complex and heterogeneous set of relations between hazard, law, and space. By applying Actor-Network Theory as a methodological premise, this paper will trace multiple uncertainties constituted within the heterogeneous relations between human practices and non-human materialities in the production and management of risks. By taking the case of Karabaglar neighbourhood (Turkey), seismic hazard and disaster laws, the relational uncertainties attached to risk management will be discussed in this study.