Chris Courtney

Apr 28, 2020

The Nature of Disaster in China

The 1931 Yangzi River Flood

Cambridge University Press 2018

purchase at bookshop.org For somewhat unfortunate reasons, many more people in the world now know about the existence and location of a city called Wuhan than was the case at the start of 2020. But most of these likely remain unaware of just how pivotal a role Wuhan has played in many events in China’s recent history. Almost 90 years ago the city was at the epicentre of a major flood which, while being quite a different kind of disaster from today’s pandemic, similarly laid bare the complexities of the society which sought to deal with it. Chris Courtney’s The Nature of Disaster in China: The 1931 Yangzi River Flood (Cambridge University Press, 2018) takes us deep into the world of Wuhan during this cataclysmic period, exploring the flood from numerous different angles – environmental, social, cultural and institutional to name a few. These different perspectives on an event of such vast scale are revelatory in their own right, but also shed light on Chinese and global affairs at a fascinating and important juncture of history, and offer us a way of looking at disasters right up to the present day.
Ed Pulford is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Amsterdam. His research focuses on friendships and histories between the Chinese, Korean and Russian worlds, and northeast Asian indigenous groups.

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Ed Pulford

Ed Pulford is a Lecturer in Chinese Studies at the University of Manchester. His research focuses on friendships and histories between the Chinese, Korean and Russian worlds, and northeast Asian indigenous groups.

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