Reframing disaster: revisiting global disasters


This year marks the 30th anniversary of Bhopal gas disaster in India, the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide and the 10th anniversary of the South Asian tsunami on Boxing Day 2004.

Reframing Disaster is a major project based in Leeds that seeks to consider, commemorate and support recovery for these and other global disasters.

It is part of the University of Leeds’ postcolonial disaster project headed by Dr Anthony Carrigan, Lecturer in Postcolonial Literatures and Cultures at the University’s School of English.

He said: “At a time when the number of global disasters is rising rapidly, it’s vital we consider both the historical legacies of large-scale catastrophes and why disasters continue to hit communities across the world so hard.

Reframing Disaster looks beyond statistics towards the profound physical, emotional, and physical fallout from disasters as communicated across art, literature and the media.

“What can they tell us about how long a disaster lasts? How do communities recover from environmental devastation? And what might be done to support survivors, to campaign for justice and prevent future disasters?”

A free photographic exhibition has just opened at The Tetley and runs until 7 December. It features work by the world-renowned Magnum photographer Raghu Rai, who was the first to document the Bhopal disaster.

On the night of 2 December 1984, a Union Carbide pesticide plant leaked 27 tons of toxic gases in the central Indian city, causing one of the world’s worst industrial disasters. To date 25,000 have died as a result of exposure to the toxic cloud, and over half a million have suffered from debilitating health problems.

The project also includes film screenings, public discussions, schools workshops and a conference.

On Friday 28 November there is a free event at The Tetley from 5.30-9.30pm looking at the links between disaster commemoration and creativity. Prize-winning Malaysian-born author and academic Minoli Salgado will read from her new novel about the civil war and tsunami in Sri Lanka – A Little Dust on the Eyes. There will also be an interview with Magnum photographer Susan Meiselas, and Kala Sangam will interpret global disasters through the language of classical Indian dance.

Further information

An image by Raghu Rai from the exhibition at The Tetley is downloadable from this Google Drive.

For full details of Reframing Disaster and the accompanying events, see: or

The project is supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council as part of its Care for the Future: Thinking Forward Through the Past theme, as well as the University of Leeds’ Creative and Cultural Industries Exchange.

For interviews, contact University of Leeds press officer Gareth Dant on 0113 343 3996 or