Individual Submission Summary

Direct link:

Dealing with Shortage, Overflow and Containment of ‘Information’ when Disaster strikes: Case of Nepal’s 2015 Earthquake and its Responses

Fri, August 31, 9:00 to 10:30am, ICC, E5.5


When Disaster strikes it’s not only breakdowns the socio-technical order but also disturbs the collective responses that challenge the managerial vision of ‘orderly system’ (pre to post). The paper undertakes the case of Nepal’s 2015 earthquake that took lives of nearly 9000 people and many more injured and millions homeless. In particular, the paper explores the three months of immediate institutional and collectives’ responses in midst of a knowledge gap of crucial information required for ‘rescue and relief’ operations to deal with disaster. The papers examine how the shortages of data portray at the time of crisis and how the overflow of information coming in through social media, crowdsourcing through open source and open data platforms and various other avenues while the failure of the state to recollect the institutional memory with the repository of information at the disposal to make use of it in the disaster. The paper undertakes three actors and their standpoints at the time of crisis: the state, the non-governmental agencies (like Kathmandu Living Labs) and the people’s collective responses. The theoretical underpinning will be based on interdisciplinary approaches like Science and Technology Studies and, in particular, ‘infrastructural inversion’ (Bowker & Star, 1999). The paper critically argues that the Nepalese case of disaster unravels the erection of new informational databases not only at the cost of making ‘the past as indeterminate’ but also the practical politics of classifying and standardizing the databases constantly were the process of ‘remembering to forget’(Raj, 2015) the earthquake victims.