Researchers’ gold rush in the aftermath of major disasters: too much of an opportunity or serious lack of understanding? (12259)
Rationale: Major disasters often stir the interest of researchers who often rush to affected areas to conduct various studies. This is usually motivated by a genuine will to do good and contribute to the recovery/disaster risk reduction effort as well as by the opportunity to collect unique empirical data in the context of an actual event and that of being ahead of other scholars expected to come over. Frequently though, researchers hurrying to disaster-affected areas have no experience with the said places. First, it is questionable whether it is appropriate for outsiders, often without cultural and language skills as well as enough time to conduct preliminary literature review, to converge to places where people struggle to rebuild their lives and livelihoods and have other priorities than answering questions about the recent events. In addition, post-disaster research flurries frequently occur in dissociation from local researchers who best know affected places and people and could thus be considered as the most legitimate to conduct such studies. Conceptually, massive and numerous research initiatives following major disasters lead scientific attention and discussion to be disproportionally focused on and based upon large-scale events at the detriment of small-scale, everyday hazards which cumulative impact is yet supposed to have a larger effect on those affected. The abundance of research in the aftermath of major disasters thus strengthens the so-called paradigm of the extreme which dominates disaster studies as well as policies for disaster risk reduction. This roundtable proposes to critically address these ethical and conceptual issues.