Feminist Reflections on Vulnerability: Disrespect, Obligation, Action


At least since the 1970s, vulnerability has emerged as a significant area of research in international social sciences. Combining sociology, studies of climate change, politics, and cultural geography, these interdisciplinary studies of vulnerability are concerned with the exposure of populations to natural, economic, and political disasters.1 In the area of national defense, vulnerability means a failure of security, the exposure to or the risk of an attack by hostile forces or, recently, terrorism.2 From natural disasters to political catastrophes, from economic/political disempowerment to the weakness of military defense, the patterns and the causes of vulnerability have to be measured, prevented, or at least managed in order to protect populations. Indeed, this is the goal of global vulnerability studies, whether located in academia or in political, national, or international organizations.3

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