Universität Wien FIND

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, changes to courses and exams may be necessary at short notice. Inform yourself about the current status on u:find and check your e-mails regularly. Registration is mandatory for courses and exams. Wearing a FFP2 face mask and a valid evidence of being tested, vaccinated or have recovered from an infection are mandatory on site.

Please read the information on studieren.univie.ac.at/en/info.

142157 SE Disaster History of Modern South Asia from the 19th to the 21st Century (2021S)

Continuous assessment of course work


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


max. 36 participants
Language: English




Bi-weekly on the following dates: 4.3., 18.3., 25.3., 15.4., 29.4., 20.5., 10.6., 24.6. (1-4pm). All dates are digital with the exception of the last session on 24 June 2021. If covid regulations allow, we will meet non-digitally (!), i.e. in person for this last session of the semester. However, if you're abroad or cannot attend this last session for other reasons, let me know in advance.


Aims, contents and method of the course

Disasters are collective stress situations or mass emergencies, which can be created by ‘natural hazards, technological accidents, violent intergroup conflicts, shortages of vital resources, and other major hazards to life, health, property, well-being, and everyday routines.’ (Lindell: 2013). The people of South Asia have experienced many disasters: From pandemics, such as the Influenza of 1918, various cholera pandemics or the current Covid-19 pandemic; floods or droughts resulting in large-scale famines and millions of deaths; to the on-going climate crisis, which threatens the livelihood of both farmers and those living in port cities.

In this course we learn about various disasters in the history of modern South Asia, from the 19th century to the present. We address both the natural and human causes of these events and discuss the impact they had on the people and the economy of South Asia. Also, we deal with the responses to such disasters, by households, communities and the government.

Assessment and permitted materials


1) Active participation (10%)
2) Oral Presentation (10%)
3) Regular written assignments (15%)
4) Presentation of a draft of the seminar paper (15%)
5) Final Seminar paper, 15 pages (50%)

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

- you can miss max. 2 classes
- you have to hand in the assignments and the final seminar paper
- you have to present the draft of your seminar paper

Examination topics

Reading list

David Arnold, Famine. Social Crisis and Historical Change. Blackwell, 1988.

Mike Davis, Late Victorian Holocausts. El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third World. Verso, 2001.

Jean Drèze and Amartya Sen, The Political Economy of Hunger. Volume 1: Entitlement and Well-Being. Clarendon Press, 1990.

Amitav Ghosh, The Great Derangement. Climate Change and the Unthinkable. The University of Chicago Press, 2016.

Tirthankar Roy, Natural Disasters and Indian History. Oxford University Press, 2012.

Laura Spinney, Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How it Changed the World. Public Affairs, 2017.

Michael Zehetner, Epidemics, Empire, and Environments. Cholera in Madras and Quebec City, 1818–1910. University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016.

Association in the course directory


Last modified: We 03.03.2021 14:48