Author: Jerry Isaak

Cultural histories of avalanches: A global survey of cultural responses to catastrophe

In 2018 UNESCO added “Avalanche Risk Management” in Switzerland and Austria to the List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, illustrating “the fact that natural hazards are not mere technical challenges but also cultural challenges that each society addresses in its own way.” Cultural responses to catastrophes include: oral traditions and expressions, language, performing arts, social practices, ritual and festive events, and traditional craftsmanship. Stories and symbols enable communities to adapt and to make sense of avalanche events. These artifacts of culture appear to form an infrastructure of social protection, enhancing coping, hazard mitigation and offering a context in which to comprehend future events. 

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