EARTHQUAKES AND COPING PRACTICES IN HISTORICAL PROCES

Abstract

Author(s): Mehmet Baki B?L?K

This research focuses on how earthquakes are perceived by the society during the historical process. In times when the perception of rational world did not develop, people tend to explain earthquakes with supernatural powers, while they tend to explain disasters through metaphysical processes such as warning and punishment from the deity. The earthquakes, which were first explained by mythological elements, were generally perceived in a metaphysical dimension together with the celestial religions. The way in which the danger is perceived has developed more mystical coping practices. With the enlightenment, the increasingly rationalized perception of the world created a tendency to explain earthquakes with empirical processes. Particularly, the events of the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake have fueled the debate about perceiving earthquakes more rationally. In this context, scales were placed all over the world to measure seismic activities, and earthquake services were tried to be reduced with engineering services to strengthen the physical structure. However, debates that these measures only are not sufficient and that the factors causing losses and damages are formed by social and economic processes have developed the vulnerability approach. Especially with the participation of social scientists in the debate, the line of defense was drawn from nature to the social field. Today, vulnerabilities discussions draw attention especially to socially and economically fragile structure and groups. This research has generally followed the traces of these intellectual transformation processes in earthquake perception

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