Natural disasters and disasters that directly derive from human actions, both evolving and sudden, trace the structural fault lines of the societies that they affect. Disaster outcomes disproportionately impact those with the least access to social and material resources: women and children, and people who are elderly, disabled or impoverished.

Using a disability conceptual framework,the essays in this volume focus on disasters within their social and environmental ecologies, with particular attention to the ways in which conventional disaster planning and responses ensure that existing social inequalities will be perpetuated as consequences of disasters. We argue that by foregrounding the needs of those with the fewest resources, an applied anthropology of disaster points to potential benefits to all when disaster preparedness, response, and recovery plans include the expertise of disabled people.