Disaters without Borders

Disasters Without Borders, John Hannigan, Polity Press, £13.95.

As international attention on natural disasters increases, John Hannigan examines the latest trend in international politics to resolve“borderless” issues. Conceived as a textbook reviewing contemporary debates, Disasters Without Borders presents a comprehensive account of the failures of diplomacy in the realm of disaster management. The book views the field through an intense politicosociological lens, from the emergence of Disaster Risk Reduction in the 1980s, to the recent integration of climate change debates into humanitarian relief strategies.

Disasters Without Borders provides a critical look at the political discourse of disasters as a thinly veiled disguise for hegemonic agendas. Hannigan’s text culminates with a presentation of two competing theoretical approaches that explain the diffusion of norms and ideas by non-state actors beyond a Realist perspective. In a rather anticlimactic fashion, however, he finds that both fall short, but does not present an alternative, leaving readers empty-handed.

The book concludes with the “SCPQ Configuration” (Securitization,Catastrophe Scenario Building and Modeling, Privatization, and Quantification) embodying the currentstate of disaster institutions. Overall, Disasters Without Borders is an enjoyable, easily accessible read, but lacks new insight into tackling the dismal failures of environmental cooperation.

- KC

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