The theme for our inaugural issue, disasters and social justice seeks to address two related challenges. On the one hand is the problem of identifying how disasters and their aftermaths are shaped by ongoing patterns of social inequality and structural violence. This requires attending to what preceded the disaster event, and tracing how the unequal arrangements that prevailed prior to the disaster shape the aftermath. On the other hand is the problem of defining disasters, both in spatio-temporal terms but also in terms of their origins and genesis. If hurricanes and earthquakes are easily recognizable as disasters, what about droughts or famines, desertification or rising sea levels? What about industrial catastrophes, environmental devastation, war? Can we think of political violence writ large as also constituting a form of disaster? What may be gained (or lost) in such a formulation? The papers in this offering will seek to extend the definitions of disaster in seeking to account for both challenges noted above. On the one hand, we will seek to deepen the temporal frame both in terms of time and political possibility, reiterating the openness of history in the making of disasters and their aftermaths, but also in terms of the ways in which those events thought of as disasters are inextricably linked to the political economic, social and historical worlds in which they occur. On the other hand, papers in this volume will strive to challenge conventional notions of disasters, taking seriously the idea of ‘slow violence (Nixon 2013),’ but also the understanding that disasters and their aftermaths always pertain to struggles over subjectivities as much as contestations over futures.