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Gregory Pierce

Admitted to PhD Programme: 2012-07-01

Supervisor: Pernille Gooch  (from. 2013-09-02), Alf Hornborg (2012-07-01 - 2013-09-01)

Assistant supervisor: Alf Hornborg (from. 2013-09-02), Pernille Gooch  (2012-07-01 - 2013-09-01)

  • Teaches on HEKN11 and HEKN12


The notion of vulnerability has for decades undergirded much of the discourse and practice in the disaster industry. This is especially true in terms of current discourse on sustainability and resilience in terms of local livelihoods and climate change adaptation. Despite its durability, however, the very notion of vulnerability has not been adequately interrogated. This is especially true as 'data' about natural hazards that are collected through GIS and remote sensing technologies are increasingly relied upon in the analysis of risk, which has significant implications for the great majority of earth inhabitants whose ground-level experiences of being-in-the-world are far from remote and in no great sense conform to the standard (and standardizing) deviations of such analysis.

One of the implications that my current research focuses on is structural. Growing reliance on these technologies tends to reinforce the power dynamics that are engrained in the distributional asymmetries of the world economic system. This implication significantly limits the possibility of making the adjustments that would be necessary to the current global political economy if the stated goals of so much discourse on disaster are to be reconciled with the ground-level realities of populations across the world.

A second implication that I currently focus on in my research is phenomenological, having everything to do with those realities on the ground. The people who live in those remotely defined "spaces of vulnerability" (Bankoff 2003) are increasingly vanished within the very calculus of that remotely-sensed risk that now defines not their experience of inhabiting the world but the earth as an analytical globe demarked foremost by the spaces produced through the reductions of “risk analysis.”

My goal is to integrate these two implications, the structural and the phenomenological, in the development of a new and useful synthesis. My research focuses specifically on the perceptions of and experiences with natural hazards of the Dolpo-pa, ethnically and culturally Tibetan people who have long inhabited a high, difficult to reach area of the Nepali Himalaya. In the fall of 2014, I returned to Lund after spending a year conducting fieldwork that included three separate multi-week expeditions deep into the mountains. Over the year, I also did multiple interviews in Southeast Asia with individuals who work in the disaster industry. 


Human Ecology
E-mail: gregory.pierce [at]

Doctoral student

Human Ecology

+46 72 721 97 73


The Department of Human Geography
and the Human Ecology Division

Address: Sölvegatan 10,
223 62 Lund
Phone: 046-222 17 59

Faculty of Social Sciences