LAST-conference in june

Invitation to Conference on the social impact of disasters and climate change . 9.-10. June 2022 in Stavanger, Norway

Published Updated on
Conference: Under Pressure

Held by the project "Life After the Storegga Tsunami (LAST)"

Project leader: A.J. Nyland, Museum of Archaeology, UiS (email:

Registration deadline May 20th


The LAST project explores the life worlds of hunter-gatherer-fishers before and after the Storegga tsunami, which hit the coasts of western Norway and northeastern Britain, 8200 years ago. In archaeological literature, it has been widely assumed that this resulted in societal collapse and disaster for coastal communities. But what constitutes a disaster in a hunter-gatherer-fisher society? What must happen in a society for people to initiate or seek change? What social impacts can catastrophic events have on societies? How are such events reflected or integrated in knowledge and practices?
As a fundamental premise we recognize that the ways in which a society handles a dramatic natural hazard such as a tsunami, volcanic activity, or punctuated episodes of climate change, or rapidly rising sea levels, are indicative of the capacities of that society. Consequently, the human element of what we might consider as the social impact of a tsunami, is not something that can be conceived of as simply the result of a ‘natural disaster’. Whereas much previous research has been concerned with establishing the event itself, we take the tsunami itself as a point of departure from which we may explore various aspects of how prehistoric societies may have experienced a dramatic natural event. As a result of this, in the LAST-project, the Storegga tsunami will function as a indicator of fundamental features of social structures and organisation in the Mesolithic.
To get a fuller understanding of what constitutes a catastrophe or disaster, we would like our invited speakers to discuss how natural hazards and disasters can challenge social structures and organization, potentially bringing about systemic adaptation, perhaps to maintain stability and sustain viable lifeways. Should we regard a disaster as an event or a process? Or perhaps both? Is adaptation an inherent societal capacity? Is a return to the status quo a measure of social resilience? Moreover, what might we consider social resilience within hunter-gatherer-fisher societies? And is such a concept suitable when discussing human-environment relations?
Although the current conference we invite to has an archaeological and geological point of departure, we believe that we can learn a lot from researchers who have worked with disaster studies in fields of anthropology, sociology, and cultural history. We therefore hope for talks that can inspire new understandings of how humans live with hazards. Can we learn from past practices and situations, or can knowledge of current situations and events be useful for learning about the past?

Conference program

Registration deadline 20th MAY
To join in the audience: please send an email to please also add details of any food allergies etc. we should take into consideration if you are registrering for lunch/dinner.
The fee for audience – two options (NOK incl. mva. /moms) (payment details later):
1) Covering coffee/snack both days, lunch day two: 450,-
2) Covering coffee/snack both days, lunch day two & conference dinner (day one): 900,-
3) Participation only Thursday (without / with dinner): 100,- / 550,-
4) Participation only Friday (without / with lunch): 150,-/ 350,-


10.00- 12.10 Registration & coffee at Museum of Archaeology, University of Stavanger
12.10- 12:30 Welcome by Director Ole Madsen
Presentation of ‘Life after the Storegga Tsunami’ (LAST) and aim for conference, Dr Astrid J. Nyland
Chair: Astrid J. Nyland
12:30- 13:00 Prof Roberto Barrios, Department of Anthropology/ Doris Zemurray Stone Chair for Latin American Studies, University of New Orleans, USA.
Societal rescilience, capacities and vulnerabilities
13.10- 13.40 Dr Ksenia Chmutina, School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering, Loughborough University, England #NoNaturalDisasters: language, framings and implications
13.50- 14.20 Dr Wesley Cheek, Department of Geography and Geology, Edge Hill University, England
’What I really miss are the people’ Disasters and recovery

14:30- 15.00 Coffee and Fruit

Chair: James Walker
15:00-15.30 Dr Will Megarry, School of Natural and Built Environment, Queens University, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Adaptation, Human Agency, and the Climate Crisis
16.10-16:30 Prof Felix Riede, School of culture and society, University of Århus, Denmark
The lure of the catastrophic: climate, catastrophe and the rythms of deep time culture change
16.40- 17.20 Discussion – disaster studies as interpretative framework – does it/ how does it work?
18.00-21.00 Conference Dinner (at Ask & Embla, Museum of Archaeology, UiS)


Chair: Hege Damlien
09.00- 09.30 Prof Peter Jordan, Department of Archaeology and ancient History, Lund University, Sweden. GI-CoRE Global Station for Indigenous Studies and Cultural Diversity (GSI), Hokkaido University, Japan
”The Earth is Faster Now”: Assessing Local Responses to Environmental Hazards and Catastrophes in Maritime Northeast Asi
09.40- 10.10: Dr Richard Knecht, School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen, Scotland
Arctic anthropology – forager societies at their best when pressured?
10.20- 10.50 Prof Knut Andreas Bergsvik, University museum, University of Bergen, Norway
Settlement patterns and demographic developments in Mesolithic western Norway
11.00- 11.30 Discussion - how to learn more about societies past/now through disaster

11.30- 12.00 Lunch

Chair: Håvard Kilhavn
12.00- 12.30 Dr Helga Kleiven, Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, University of Bergen, Norway
About the climate, weather, and the 8.2 cold event(s)
12.40-13:10 Prof Stein Bondevik, Department of Environmental Sciences, Western Norway University of applied sciences, Norway
Identifying and dating the Storegga tsunami
13.20- 13.50 Prof Sue Dawson, Geography and Environmental Science, University of Dundee (in honour of Caroline Wickham-Jones†, Department of Archaeology, University of Aberdeen)
The Storegga tsunami in Scotland: impact on landscape and society
14.00 -14.30 Dr Steven Gibbons NGI, Norway
Numerical simulations of the Storegga tsunami

14:40 – 15:00 Coffee and snack

15:00-16:00 End Discussion - summing up (Felix Riede & Ksenia Chmutina)