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Project & Partners

Project Summary

'Curating Crises' brings together teams from the Caribbean and the UK to focus on the histories of volcanic crises in the Caribbean. While the project is funded until the end of July 2023, the online database will continue to be available beyond this date.

In the past, environmental crises (like volcanic eruptions, or earthquakes) were seen by European scientists as an opportunity to "parachute in", make measurements and gather samples as a means to progress "scientific discovery" and share knowledge with European colleagues on their return home. These practices are rooted in colonial attitudes and have left two legacies. 

First, detailed reports of these past crises exist, but are only accessible to those able to visit European libraries, museums and archives in person

Second, the importance of local observers, and the value of their observations, has often been overlooked, or forgotten

'Curating Crises' aims to change these two things. 

This online database is the first step, through this resource we can share these records with a wider audience, giving access to groups who were previously "locked out" and unable to view, analyse and benefit from data created about (and often by) them, and their volcanoes. Further, we aim to highlight those who were historically excluded from narratives around volcanic hazard and risk in the Caribbean by through a series of curated online exhibits.  

A feature of these exhibits will be content created during community-driven projects on Montserrat and St Vincent that made use of this online archive, allowing Caribbean communities can take ownership of the data. This process is a vital part of the 'Curating Crises' project, bringing Caribbean voices to the fore and enriching perspectives on volcanic crises and monitoring and management through the archive.

'Curating Crises' is part of 'Hidden Histories', a collaboration between the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Natural Environment Research Council that has funded a number of interdisciplinary projects with the aim of using the past to inform the future of environmental science.

Ultimately, the findings of 'Curating Crises' will help us work out the best ways to investigate these and other examples of 'hidden histories', giving us new ideas for ways we can work together to understand the environment

Time periods & Study Sites

Our project focuses on events on the Caribbean islands of Montserrat and St Vincent between 1890 and 2000. This includes several major eruptions (St Vincent - 1902 and 1979 and Montserrat - 1995) as well as periods of unrest/earthquake activity (Montserrat - 1934-1939).

During this time both islands started at British Crown Colonies and one later became an independent nation (St Vincent). Our project also looks at how measurements and observations have changed through time - and see how 'remote' observations (e.g., satellites) and automated instrumental networks have changed the nature of data sharing, interpretation and storage. 

Our Project Partners:

University of the West Indies: Seismic Research Centre

The University of the West Indies 

Montserrat Volcano Observatory

University of East Anglia

University of Oxford

The Royal Society

The National Archives