Social Memory and Geographical Memory of Natural Disasters

  • Blaž Komac
Keywords: geography, geography of natural disasters, geographical theory, historical geography, virtual geography, social memory of natural disasters, geographical memory of natural disasters, human intervention in nature, palimpsest, GIS, enviroment, landscape


The article offers a geographical perception of the relationship between social (anthropogenic) and geographical processes including their effects that becomes clearly evident in the case of natural disasters. In modern times, geographical processes are often overlooked as participants in the formation of landscapes. The article considers them from the viewpoint of their visibility in the social sphere, that is, from the viewpoint of the social memory of natural disasters as preserved in oral, written, and architectural accounts as well as other results of human actions in nature. We compare the social memory of natural disasters with the so-called “geographical memory” reflected in the impacts of geographical processes that are visible in the landscape, for example, in features of the relief. The geographical perception of the social and natural elements of the landscape or the imprint of social and geographical processes on the landscape, which can be viewed as a palimpsest, depends on the place and time of observation and on the size and frequency of events. Using selected examples we showed that a quantitative definition is possible of the impact of individual factors on the development of the landscape, which is important for the assessment of geographical processes and for decision-making related to the extent, rationality, and necessity of human interventions in nature. In this framework we also confirmed the importance of the geographical information systems for geography.


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How to Cite
Komac B. Social Memory and Geographical Memory of Natural Disasters. AGS [Internet]. 2009Dec.15 [cited 2020Aug.8];49(1):199–226. Available from: