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Chapter 3 introduces a range of multidisciplinary data sources available to study disasters and history and outlines some of the methodologies through which we can interpret and analyze these sources. The underpinning argument is that we can use history as a laboratory to better understand disasters – testing hypotheses rather than merely describing conspicuous phenomena, albeit with a recognition of what this also demands of us as historians. In particular, we discuss the production of suitable measures and methods to understand hazards and their effects, whilst also keeping in mind the limitations of the historical record and the need for a critical approach to sources. We consider, therefore, state-of-the-art challenges in historical disaster research such as how we can compensate for lacunae in the historical record by incorporating rapidly increasing volumes of data from the natural sciences, and the opportunities and pitfalls of historical ‘big data’. The chapter concludes by arguing for the importance of systematic comparative methodologies in moving beyond the descriptive and towards the analytical, which requires that we pay particular attention to scale and context.
Chapter 7 explores the links between disasters past and present. It first examines disaster history in the ‘Anthropocene’, considering how human–environment interactions – and hence the study of disasters – differ from the past. It then takes a twofold perspective, exploring the potential of historical research for better understanding disasters and, on the flipside, the potential of disasters for historical research. We review historical approaches that seek to improve our understanding of disaster management in the present – recognizing that most approaches have so far come from outside of the discipline of history. We then explore three areas where historical research can contribute: first, in analyzing the historical roots or path-dependent forces shaping present-day disasters; second, in analyzing the evolution and functioning of institutions within certain social contexts; and third, in asking whether history can teach us how to ‘escape’ from disaster. The section on the potential of disasters for historical research considers how disasters – as tests at the extreme margin of society – can act as a window into aspects of society that may otherwise escape the eye. The chapter concludes by suggesting where disaster history may go in the coming years.
Within the field of disaster studies there has always been the need to classify and label disasters. Researchers have distinguished between different types of disasters in terms of causes, outcomes, the element of surprise, scale, or scope. Chapter 2 discusses the pros and cons of the different classification systems, and also poses the question of whether it makes sense, in view of the large diversity of disasters, to study and compare these different types. Is it possible to move beyond the specificity of earthquakes or pandemics? We believe it does make sense. As historians, we can take a higher level of abstraction, revealing the similarities between different types of disasters. In order to understand why some societies coped more effectively with hazards and which characteristics were decisive in this, we can make use of various key concepts, namely disaster management, vulnerability, resilience, and risk. Overall, it is clear that hazards and disasters are not natural events but social processes.
Disasters break with normal routines and so the responses to disasters often require exceptional policies and unusual mobilization of people, know-how, capital, and goods. However, even exceptional interventions and measures are still conditioned by the institutional, social, and cultural layout of the society in question. Moreover, disaster responses are often – though not always – inspired by the memory of reacting to similar challenges in the past. Chapter 5 opens with a discussion of the coordination of disaster responses, with a particular emphasis on the role of ‘experts’ and ‘expertise’ and the importance of learning from disaster. Subsequently, the question is raised as to why responses were not always as effective as they could have been, and why societies do not automatically adapt their infrastructure or organization in appropriate ways to prevent the recurrence of disaster. In explaining the differing directions of disaster responses, we highlight two crucial variables revealed by history: social inequality and institutional rigidity.
Chapter 1 introduces the broad objective of the book. This is to show how history can be used to understand why biophysical shocks and hazards, sometimes leading to disasters, push societies in different directions – creating a diversity of possible social and economic outcomes. In order to understand this diversity, we need to look not only at institutional responses but also at the social actors behind these responses, who may have very different goals, not always equivalent to the ‘common good’. We illustrate how shocks and hazards, and the disasters that sometimes ensued, could thus have very diverse consequences not only between societies, but also within the same societies, between social groups, and across wealth, ethnic, and gender lines. In discussing these issues, the book goes back in time further than the modern period. Although the Industrial Revolution and associated new technologies brought momentous changes, these did not create a fundamental rift between the period before and after the Industrial Revolution, and we argue that the underlying mechanisms remained similar. After the outline of the intentions of this book, the chapter concludes with a survey of the fields of disaster studies, disaster history, and the relevant interpretative frameworks in historical research.
Hazards and disasters do not occur in a vacuum: they are guided by different preconditions and pressures, which can in turn shape responses in the immediate aftermath and over the long term. These pre-existing conditions and pressures may be basic environmental features of a region, well-established structural features of social organization or culture, or simply short-term processes occurring just before a hazard such as social revolt or migration. Chapter 4 makes an explicit distinction between pre-existing pressures connected to climate, environment, technology, and the economy and those connected to society such as institutions, poverty and inequality, and cultural values. Overall, we suggest that the diversity in pre-existing conditions and pressures seen across time and space played a significant role not only in the likelihood of hazards occurring throughout history, but also in the differing likelihood of hazards turning into disasters.
Chapter 6 discusses the effects of disasters. It distinguishes between effects in the immediate aftermath of the disaster – mortality and demographic recovery; land loss and capital destruction; economic crisis; and blame, scapegoating, and social unrest – and longer-term structural consequences – societal collapse; economic reconstruction; long-term demographic change; reconstruction, reform, and social changes; and redistribution of resources. This chapter argues that disasters, even similar ones, did not always produce homogeneous outcomes. Furthermore, rather than being totally damaging or even controversially regarded as a ‘force for good’, the effects of disasters are best assessed by making a basic distinction between the aggregate level and the distributive level: disasters could be instrumentalized to benefit a certain segment of a given population over others.
Disasters and History offers the first comprehensive historical overview of hazards and disasters. Drawing on a range of case studies, including the Black Death, the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 and the Fukushima disaster, the authors examine how societies dealt with shocks and hazards and their potentially disastrous outcomes. They reveal the ways in which the consequences and outcomes of these disasters varied widely not only between societies but also within the same societies according to social groups, ethnicity and gender. They also demonstrate how studying past disasters, including earthquakes, droughts, floods and epidemics, can provide a lens through which to understand the social, economic and political functioning of past societies and reveal features of a society which may otherwise remain hidden from view. This title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core.
Stimulation of gastrointestinal taste receptors affects eating behaviour. Intraduodenal infusion of tastants leads to increased satiation and reduced food intake, whereas intraileal infusion of tastants does not affect eating behaviour. Currently, it is unknown whether oral- or intragastric administration of tastants induces a larger effect on eating behaviour. This study investigated the effects of oral- and/or intragastric administration of quinine on food intake, appetite sensations and heart rate variability (HRV). In a blinded randomised crossover trial, thirty-two healthy volunteers participated in four interventions with a 1-week washout: oral placebo and intragastric placebo (OPGP), oral quinine and intragastric placebo (OQGP), oral placebo and intragastric quinine (OPGQ) and oral quinine and intragastric quinine (OQGQ). On test days, 150 min after a standardised breakfast, subjects ingested a capsule containing quinine or placebo and were sham-fed a mixture of quinine or placebo orally. At 50 min after intervention, subjects received an ad libitum meal to measure food intake. Visual analogue scales for appetite sensations were collected, and HRV measurements were performed at regular intervals. Oral and/or intragastric delivery of the bitter tastant quinine did not affect food intake (OPGP: 3273·6 (sem 131·8) kJ, OQGP: 3072·7 (sem 132·2) kJ, OPGQ: 3289·0 (sem 132·6) kJ and OQGQ: 3204·1 (sem 133·1) kJ, P = 0·069). Desire to eat and hunger decreased after OQGP and OPGQ compared with OPGP (P < 0·001 and P < 0·05, respectively), whereas satiation, fullness and HRV did not differ between interventions. In conclusion, sole oral sham feeding with and sole intragastric delivery of quinine decreased desire to eat and hunger, without affecting food intake, satiation, fullness or HRV.
Infections of the respiratory tract are a common cause of maternal morbidity. Physiological and immunological changes that occur in pregnancy may contribute to a higher incidence, morbidity and mortality than that observed in the general population. Diagnostic and management strategies for pulmonary infections are broadly similar in pregnant women as in non-pregnant women. Concerns regarding the safety of antimicrobial agents during pregnancy may modify treatment considerations.
We describe an ultra-wide-bandwidth, low-frequency receiver recently installed on the Parkes radio telescope. The receiver system provides continuous frequency coverage from 704 to 4032 MHz. For much of the band (
), the system temperature is approximately 22 K and the receiver system remains in a linear regime even in the presence of strong mobile phone transmissions. We discuss the scientific and technical aspects of the new receiver, including its astronomical objectives, as well as the feed, receiver, digitiser, and signal processor design. We describe the pipeline routines that form the archive-ready data products and how those data files can be accessed from the archives. The system performance is quantified, including the system noise and linearity, beam shape, antenna efficiency, polarisation calibration, and timing stability.
We developed a fictional town, Smithtown, to support the exercises we undertook during the seminars that gave rise to this book. The town, and a small selection of its inhabitants, were presented to the seminars in 2014, in order to ground the ideas we discussed and focus our conversations about what approaches and actions might assist the population generally and, particularly, following a disastrous flood. We have included a summarised version of it in the book because we thought that readers might wish to think about the implications of the contents of this book for how responsible authorities might approach the challenge of planning for the population of Smithtown. Also, the nature of this fictional town and its recent narrative raises questions for theory, research and practice. Although the town and its inhabitants are entirely fictional, the problems faced by its inhabitants are not..
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a fast-acting intervention for major depressive disorder. Previous studies indicated neurotrophic effects following ECT that might contribute to changes in white matter brain structure. We investigated the influence of ECT in a non-randomized prospective study focusing on white matter changes over time.
Twenty-nine severely depressed patients receiving ECT in addition to inpatient treatment, 69 severely depressed patients with inpatient treatment (NON-ECT) and 52 healthy controls (HC) took part in a non-randomized prospective study. Participants were scanned twice, approximately 6 weeks apart, using diffusion tensor imaging, applying tract-based spatial statistics. Additional correlational analyses were conducted in the ECT subsample to investigate the effects of seizure duration and therapeutic response.
Mean diffusivity (MD) increased after ECT in the right hemisphere, which was an ECT-group-specific effect. Seizure duration was associated with decreased fractional anisotropy (FA) following ECT. Longitudinal changes in ECT were not associated with therapy response. However, within the ECT group only, baseline FA was positively and MD negatively associated with post-ECT symptomatology.
Our data suggest that ECT changes white matter integrity, possibly reflecting increased permeability of the blood–brain barrier, resulting in disturbed communication of fibers. Further, baseline diffusion metrics were associated with therapy response. Coherent fiber structure could be a prerequisite for a generalized seizure and inhibitory brain signaling necessary to successfully inhibit increased seizure activity.
The Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC) has made major advances in the molecular etiology of MDD, confirming that MDD is highly polygenic. Pathway enrichment results from PGC meta-analyses can also be used to help inform molecular drug targets. Prior to any knowledge of molecular biomarkers for MDD, drugs targeting molecular pathways (MPs) proved successful in treating MDD. It is possible that examining polygenicity within specific MPs implicated in MDD can further refine molecular drug targets.
Using a large case–control GWAS based on low-coverage whole genome sequencing (N = 10 640) in Han Chinese women, we derived polygenic risk scores (PRS) for MDD and for MDD specific to each of over 300 MPs previously shown to be relevant to psychiatric diagnoses. We then identified sets of PRSs, accounting for critical covariates, significantly predictive of case status.
Over and above global MDD polygenic risk, polygenic risk within the GO: 0017144 drug metabolism pathway significantly predicted recurrent depression after multiple testing correction. Secondary transcriptomic analysis suggests that among genes in this pathway, CYP2C19 (family of Cytochrome P450) and CBR1 (Carbonyl Reductase 1) might be most relevant to MDD. Within the cases, pathway-based risk was additionally associated with age at onset of MDD.
Results indicate that pathway-based risk might inform etiology of recurrent major depression. Future research should examine whether polygenicity of the drug metabolism gene pathway has any association with clinical presentation or treatment response. We discuss limitations to the generalizability of these preliminary findings, and urge replication in future research.