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Panel 5: Natural disasters in Oceania


Chris Ballard, Maëlle Calandra, Siobhan McDonnell, Benedicta Rousseau

Session presentation

Natural disasters are, notoriously, also human productions; that is, they are both mediated through the effects of human agency (social inequality, population distribution etc), and produced by humans as a category of event, requiring a particular explanation and response. In the unfolding context of climate change at a global level, with profound implications for the frequency and intensity of natural disasters at a local level in Oceania, how do such events – including earthquake, tsunami, volcanic eruption, landslide, cyclone, flood and drought – and the variability of responses to them depart from or contribute to global understandings of disaster? How can we break down presuppositions regarding structure and scale in both experiences of and responses to disaster? With particular reference to recent disasters, we invite contributions that consider the ways in which natural disasters are prepared for, experienced, managed, and documented in Oceania, with reference to individuals, local communities, states, and global and regional agencies. How is disaster assistance anticipated, negotiated and delivered across the widest range of actors; and how do the perspectives and demands of these positions intersect and compete with or elide one another? How are disasters then reconceptualised and morally configured?

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