Mr Arvid  van Dam

Mr Arvid van Dam

Marie Sklodowska-Curie PhD candidate

+44 (0) 113 3432025 | +31 6 15275313

Summary: Disaster Studies, Design Anthropology, Environmental Humanities

Location: LHRI room 1.04


Under the ENHANCE ITN programme, my research aims to deepen our understanding of slow-onset disasters in European contexts by combining insights from the environmental humanities, disaster studies, and design anthropology. It critically assesses the politics of disaster, understood as an entanglement of social, ecological, and economic crises and opportunities, by theorizing how designs of governmental (e.g. water management) systems, social cohesion, and environments emerge in response to disaster, as hubs of negotiation, confusion, marginalization, opportunities, creativity and power.

Through ethnographic fieldwork and an analysis of disaster narratives I study discursive-material expressions of desertification in contested landscape designs in southern Spain, and highlight how incoherent forms of knowledge and views to a sustainable future materialise. 

Previous research 

My previous research focused on the crossroads between globalisation studies and disaster studies by analysing the collaborations between tsunami survivors, organisations, government, and other stakeholders in southern Sri Lanka. I approached the response to disaster as a collective effort that is continually negotiated and contested, demonstrating how these collaborations facilitate, limit, and generally give shape to recovery.

In earlier research I explored how officially unrecognized war veterans negotiated their position between the margins and the centre of the Argentine nation through the use of, and ascription of meaning to, nationalist symbolism. 

I have a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Cultural Anthropology from Utrecht University (NL).


Disasters; desertification; sustainable futures; landscaping; agriculture; tourism; design anthropology; environmental humanities.

Peer reviewed publication

Van Dam, Arvid (2015) Negotiating the Indian Ocean: Opportunities in the process of recovery in post-tsunami Sri Lanka. Etnofoor 27(1) pp 37-52.