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International Conference: Imaging Disaster

The Great Wave of Kanagawa, source: wikimedia.

Date: 1st – 3rd March 2012
Place: IWH (Internationales Wissenschaftsforum Heidelberg)
Hauptstrasse 242, D- 69117 Heidelberg

The conference precedes an exhibition at the Reiss-Engelhorn-Museum ( in Mannheim in 2014. The results and findings of the symposium will be represented the conference proceedings and in the exhibition catalogue. The conference takes place from the 01.-03.03.2012 in the IWH (Internationales Wissenschaftsforum Heidelberg). For further information please feel free to contact Noura Dirani (Phone: +49 (0)6221 – 54 4380).

Conference Registration: (Please understand that the number of guests is limited).

The analysis of the ways disasters are imagined and visualized is the theme of this conference, in two senses. First, it will address methodological questions pertaining to a transcultural vocabulary and iconography of disasters and second, it intends to systematically analyze the event of disaster and its medial representation as a complex and composite socio-cultural process.
As the conference will focus on the cognitive, communicative, social and aesthetic functions of medial representations of disasters, a number of questions – distinct from the actual object of investigation (medium, disaster, cultural context, epoch) – need to be posed: How do individuals in different cultures imagine disasters? How do images shape the perception of an event so as to identify it as a disaster? What are the iconic means deployed to transmit a particular interpretation (modes of representation, visual traditions)? How do images of disaster communicate across cultural boundaries? Which elements are specific to cultures, which ones work in a transcultural context by virtue of their mobility? How do human beings deal with the experience of disaster, how do they translate this through representations? Can the disaster itself become a medium of communication?
Contributions to the conference might address problems of method drawing on a specific case study, alternatively they might undertake a systematic analysis of an event or a category (earthquakes, floods…), or else combine various questions through a focus on one event.