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Living with the tsunami: Contested knowledges, spatial politics and everyday practices in South East Sri Lanka

Wright, Will (2015) Living with the tsunami: Contested knowledges, spatial politics and everyday practices in South East Sri Lanka. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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The thesis offers an ethnographic account of the ongoing legacies of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, focusing explicitly on communities in Arugam Bay, South East Sri Lanka. It provides empirical evidence that the tsunami should not be considered ‘over’ or an ‘event’ confined to the past, but instead that it is ongoing, shaping everyday life. The thesis argues that ongoing experiences of the tsunami are not equal, and it unpicks some of the relationships that shape these inequalities, specifically with regards to knowledge production in relation to the disaster. In doing this, it highlights the contested geographies surrounding the area. The thesis presents three overlapping ways in which the tsunami continues to be experienced in everyday life: through its spectacularisation and commodification; through the practices of (I)NGOs; and through the lived coastscape. Informed by literature that seeks to understand disasters and places ‘on their own terms’, the thesis develops the concept of ‘communities of practice’: a theory of practice which highlights the contextual nature of practices in everyday life, emphasising that they are both influenced by discursive and embodied knowledges, and in turn, produce knowledges. This term is used heuristically to explore the tsunami’s legacies, and highlights the ways in which specific knowledges are produced and contested in the area. The thesis focuses specifically on four key communities of practice: fishing; tourism; surfing; and researching. These are central to the production of everyday life and hence embodied knowledges of the tsunami, and are therefore present throughout the whole thesis. Running alongside this are a number of themes: the agency of the more-than-human, specifically the sea; memory and memorialisation of disaster; and broader theories of space and place. These are mobilised to argue that people continue to live with the tsunami as a part of everyday life.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Geography (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Dr Will Wright
Date Deposited: 15 Sep 2015 09:54
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2015 09:54
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/9662

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