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Disaster conversations: intersecting perspectives on cross-cultural disaster research

Susie Goodall (School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)
Zainab Khalid (School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, China)
Monia Del Pinto (School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 29 October 2021

Issue publication date: 22 April 2022




This paper aims to demonstrate the importance of conversation among disaster studies researchers who may be positioned at times and to varying degrees as both insiders and outsiders in relation to the contexts in which they work. Three key questions are explored: how we identify with and relate to people in our study areas, who we do research for and what this means for knowledge creation and research practice.


Prompted by the Power Prestige and Forgotten Values manifesto (2019), the authors conversed with one another by email and video call, asking questions that triggered reflection. The emerging themes informed the key questions and the structure of the paper. The authors write with three individual voices to highlight the element of dialogue and our different experiences.


Sharing in depth with other researchers from different cultural and disciplinary backgrounds created space to both listen and find a voice. Emerging themes were positionality, how knowledge is used and implications for research practice. Researchers are part of a living system with the potential to serve, exploit or damage. Knowledge is generated at multiple scales, and we can act as a bridge between people and policymakers, using networks.

Practical implications

The authors remain open and unbiased to “new” local/contextual knowledge, adopting the attitude of a learner. Knowledge creation should focus on pragmatic outcomes such as informing emergency planning.


A novel dialogical approach is used to demonstrate the value of conversation among researchers from different backgrounds that enables them to question and challenge each other in a supportive environment. This leads to deeper understanding of our role as cross-cultural researchers and reveals unifying questions and implications for research practice.



The authors acknowledge firstly the contributions of the people they met during their fieldwork, for all that they shared and made the authors aware of. The authors would also like to thank those who have mentored and dialogued with them through the writing process. Professor Ben Wisner was assigned as a mentor, generously sharing his time and insight, while technology allowed them to connect from three continents. Dr. Ksenia Chmutina provided encouragement at the conceptual stage and commented on the first draft. Feedback from the anonymous reviewers, guest editors and ECR reviewer, Sneha Krishnan, has made significant improvements to the paper. The authors thank Anuszka Maton-Mosurska for providing a reflection and are grateful to all their supervisors for their ongoing support in their academic studies – Professor Lee Bosher, Dr. Ksenia Chmutina, Dr. Tom Dijkstra, Dr. Colm Jordan, Professor Xingmin Meng and Dr. Falli Palaiologou.

The research is funded by Natural Environment Research Council, UK, (No: NE/L002493/1: CENTA Doctoral Training Programme; NE/R000069/1: Geoscience for Sustainable Futures); Gansu Science and Technology Department (No: 19ZD2FA002) and National Natural Science Foundation of China (No: 41661144046).


Goodall, S., Khalid, Z. and Del Pinto, M. (2022), "Disaster conversations: intersecting perspectives on cross-cultural disaster research", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 31 No. 1, pp. 10-21.



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