Shaking Off the Past: The 1985 Mexico City Quake

Rebecca Solnit

October 28, 2009

Event Description

The resurgence of Mexican civil society and movement toward more participatory and progressive politics are sometimes seen as responses to the 1985 Mexico City quake and its aftermath. Rebecca Solnit examines how disasters can unfold like revolutions:  while the moment of liberation is fleeting, catastrophes can beget lasting social change for the better or worse. As disaster sociologist Charles Fritz put it, "Disaster provides a form of societal shock which disrupts habitual, institutionalized patterns of behavior and renders people amenable to social and personal change."


Rebecca Solnit is a writer, historian, a contributing editor to Harper's and the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the National Book Critics Circle Award.