Analyzing the Socially Transformative Capacity of Post-Disaster Reconstruction

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 8:30 AM
Room: 313+314
Oral Presentation
Angeliki PAIDAKAKI , KU Leuven, Heverlee, Belgium

Traditional theories of disaster management have neglected the role of community organizations in building urban resilience to natural hazards. They assume instead that the state, often in coordination with market forces, is the most important agent in dealing with disaster risk. My aim is to challenge this assumption. By studying the emblematic moment of post-disaster reconstruction, I intend to deal with disaster governance issues. My working hypothesis argues that local community struggle for permanent housing provision during the rehabilitation period contributes significantly to transforming multi-scalar disaster governance and building resilience to future hazards.

The paper will start with a zoomed-out investigation of the urban socio-environmental problematics in order to a) identify and untangle the interconnected economic, political, social and ecological processes that together form uneven and unjust urban assemblages, b) trace and clarify the concepts of vulnerability and resilience and c) uncover their underpinning discourses.

This “zoomed-out” identification of the socio-ecological urban problematics and vulnerabilities and the discourses behind them will be instrumental to “zooming-in” on possible entry points for new discourses for disaster resilience and institutional change in disaster intervention. Through the lens of the long-term reconstruction period, I will analyze the potential of the development and implementation of alternative housing policies in a) enhancing empowerment and social resilience, b) promoting integrated modes of urban development, and c) revealing new institutional perspectives in dealing with disaster governance.

The paper will end with a discussion on the potential of sustainable platforms of dialogue which necessitates a strong presence and proactive reproduction of social capital. What is the long-term potential of social mobilization in a) sustainably and collectively building-up of social memory for future resilience, and b) identifying and addressing possible weaknesses and challenges faced by the different bottom-up agents in their relations of cooperation, including with the state?