In the late 1990s disaster researchers were revisiting the question of the definition of disasters (Quarantelli 1998). There was concern that without a succinct and mutually agreed upon definition of the research topic, the intellectual health of the field would be weakened. As an anthropologist in a field that more or less continuously debates and discusses the core concept of culture, I was not particularly concerned about the lack of a consensus definition of disaster, a phenomenon that complexly intertwines natural and social and cultural forces.