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‘Disaster Identity’ as a new analytical approach for Disaster Studies: The paradigmatic case of disaster identity construction in Valparaíso, Chile

Otero-Auristondo, María José (2018) ‘Disaster Identity’ as a new analytical approach for Disaster Studies: The paradigmatic case of disaster identity construction in Valparaíso, Chile. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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On 12 April 2014, the coastal city of Valparaíso, Chile, was affected by Mega Fire that destroyed seven of its major hills, leaving thousands of affected families and major urban chaos behind. This is the latest happening of a historical relationship of this place and its communities with disaster events, that goes back two-hundred years to its original emplacement. In this thesis I will establish how this historically embedded way of life can be recognised through meaningful collective experiences of diverse communities that share a common place through time. I further argue that these meaningful collective experiences tend to merge into everyday city-making life, in what I call ‘Disaster Identity’; a key analytical tool that entwines the relationship amongst disaster, identity and place in disaster-prone places. I propose that this particular identity construction process is based on four main arguments: constantly re-signified social memory; collectively created identity and place-making through deep topophilic relationships with space; socially constructed resistant resilience that opposes demagogic clientelism; and culturally created false expectations due to failed urban recuperation plan post- disasters. Working together, they evidence that disasters are also sociocultural constructions; such an understanding is lacking from mainstream discussions in disaster studies. This research is a product of intersubjective analysis applied to Valparaíso’s 2014 Mega Fire and other relevant historical disasters. Hence, I designed a mixed method fieldwork, where the most-rich descriptive data was obtained through 50 interviews and archival work related to historic disasters before 2014. Both data collection and analysis were organised through relevant explanations of disaster experiences highlighted by participants, applying intersubjective interpretation to their narratives. This thesis foregrounds the important role that social sciences can offer to disaster studies, all of which would be of use to decision-makers for better- planned schemes in facing potential disaster events in disaster-prone places.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Disaster Identity, Social Memory, Resistant Resilience, False Expectations, Topophilia, Commodification of Spectacle, Total History
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Environment (Leeds) > School of Geography (Leeds)
Depositing User: Dr María J. Otero-Auristondo
Date Deposited: 21 Feb 2019 12:47
Last Modified: 21 Feb 2019 12:47
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/22566

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