Disaster Reparations? Rethinking Recovery through the Vestiges of Violence

Authors: Nathaniel O'Grady*, University of Manchester
Topics: Political Geography
Keywords: repair, disaster, violence, temporality, governance
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 42
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In this paper I draw upon and engage with debates around the temporal politics of governance to reproblematise recovery efforts that take place in disasters’ wake. Whilst temporality opens up to scrutiny the adaptive dynamics through which recovery is enacted as a performance amidst a broader resilience motif, it also steers us to consider the political ontologies of disaster that recovery operates through and actively promotes. So simultaneous to emphasising assimilation to new conditions on the ground, recovery instantiates a cut in prevailing government understandings of disasters; particularly concerning what temporally inflected factors influence their occurrence and what does not. In so doing, I demonstrate how, in practice, recovery ignores the conditions in which disasters take place and ultimately exacerbates the very consequences to which it seeks to attend. But rather than stopping at critique, the paper starts to rethink recovery through debates about repair and reparations, surmising that recovery needs to better reflect the different forms of violence (slow, symbolic, structural) that build up through time and shape disasters in the present. The paper turns to outline steps towards a politics of repair that looks to acknowledge, recognise, and accommodate operationally for, such violences on representational, affective and material registers.

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