Haiti as a Manmade Disaster


The Haitian earthquake remains one of the most catastrophic disasters in the world. With fatalities in excess of 2530,000 people and widespread destruction of properties and social systems, the effects of the earthquake will be felt for years to come. Although geography and geology initiated the earthquake, the extent of the destruction was directly attributed to the failure by institutions to mitigate the impact of the earthquake. This study analyses the Haitian earthquake in light of Smith’s (2006) assertion that there is no such thing as natural disaster and the role of social calculus in the earthquake. The study will find the extent to which difference facets of the Haitian earthquake can be mapped into Neil Smith’s framework.



DRC Case study report




General instructions:

  • Submit to LMS by 1st November 2018, 11.59pm
  • The mark for essay represents 60% of the subject total assessment
  • Choose ONE of the five case study disaster events listed on the LMS “case studies” tab
  • Choose ONE of the four questions below and answer in relation to your chosen case study.
  • The word limit for the essay is 2000 words (+/- 10%)
  • Please ensure your work is 1.5 or double spaced.
  • Reference all data and sources correctly. Any common academic referencing style (e.g. Harvard; APA; Chicago) is acceptable, but must be followed persistently and correctly throughout the essay (including both in-text citations and reference list)
  • You may include images (e.g. photos, graphs) but must explicitly cite and discuss them in the text.
  • In your response, refer to at least three references from the ‘case study tab’ for your selected case.
  • In your response, refer to at least three additional refereed journal articles on your case study disaster (which are not listed in the case study tab). These can include readings from the tutorial readings list, or readings cited in the lectures.
  • In your response, you are encouraged to refer to at least one relevant lecture this semester. You can cite the specific lecture simply by week, for example “(Week 4 lecture)”.



  1. Smith (2006) argued that ‘there is no such thing as a natural disaster’. In your essay, discuss the theoretical foundations and political implications of this claim. Critically evaluate Smith’s claim in relation to your chosen case study disaster, weighing the relative significance of its ‘natural’ and ‘human’ factors.


In your essay, refer to:

  • Theories of vulnerability (including lecture materials and tutorial readings)
  • Smith, N. 2006. There’s No Such Thing as a Natural Disaster Understanding Katrina, Social Science Research Council


  1. To what extent and in what respects has the city in your chosen case study ‘bounced back’ or ‘bounced forward’ since the disaster?


In your essay:

  • Discuss the concepts of ‘bouncing back’ and ‘bouncing forward’ in relation to theories of resilience and their critique


  1. Analyse the effects of urban infrastructure on exacerbating and/or mitigating the disaster in your selected case study.


In your essay, refer to:

  • Both risk reduction infrastructure and ordinary urban infrastructures, both at a small and large scales.
  • Infrastructural interdependencies and cascading effects


  1. Analyse the significance of urban governance in shaping the dynamics of the disaster in your selected case study.


In your essay:


  • Critically evaluate the role of, and relations between, various governance actors (of different types and at different scales), at different stages of the disaster (preparation, response and recovery).