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Wednesday, December 4 • 11:30am - 1:00pm

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Chair: Steve Matthewman 

Tricia Wachtendorf, Samantha Penta, and Mary Nelan: Post-disaster materiel convergence: A social construction approach

Over a half century of research has pointed to the challenges associated with unsolicited donations in the post disaster-environment. The sociological concept of convergence is central to such examinations. Yet despite improvements in message clarity regarding problems associated with excessive transportation cost, inappropriate giving and timing, as well as storage and distribution, the challenges persist. Based on qualitative interviews conducted in the U.S. after several disaster events, this presentation adopts a social construction approach to materiel convergence in the aftermath of disaster. We find that people who organize donation drives are often motivated to engage in social action by concerns disparate from actual survivor need. Meeting the needs of the donor and donor organization often guide giving more so than an assessment of survivors’ objective need. An interdisciplinary approach - drawing on Weber’s theory of social action, the field of collective behavior, and humanitarian logistics – is central to this analysis and for developing strategies to mitigate the burden of non-priority items in the post-disaster supply chain.

Jeevan Karki: Whose Recovery Counts? Understanding Social Vulnerability in the South Asian Disaster Response and Recovery Context

While we have no control over natural hazards, it is society rather than nature that decides which type of people are more likely to be exposed to risks and which groups will suffer most in the aftermath of disaster. Caste and ethnicity, which are still a dominant factor of social stratification in South Asian societies, have been recognised as significant factors of social vulnerability; however, these aspects are often neglected in disaster research (see Bolin, 2007; Gaillard, 2011). Therefore, my ongoing research intends to address this gap. In
this paper, I will analyse how Dalits (one of most marginalised and oppressed social groups) and ethnic minorities in South Asian societies are structurally placed in vulnerable conditions and how this social inequality is perpetuated in post-disaster response and recovery contexts as well.

Sara Salman: Citizenship Lost: Post-Disaster Relief and the Banality of State Neglect

In 2012, New York City was hit by hurricane Sandy. The storm impacted approximately 70,000 homes. In the immediate aftermath, private citizens and charities came to the aid of those affected, while the federal government worked on dispensing aid quickly. The media hailed the private and federal responses as testaments to the “resiliency” of New Yorkers, and an illustration of “institutional efficacy,” respectively. But in the aftermath of the post-disaster high, long-term relief seemed to lag. In 2013, Mayor Bloomberg launched “Build it Back”, a long-term homeowners’ rebuilding program. The program was mediated by a powerful discourse of mistrust of needy citizens and valorization of the private sector, both of which paralyzed it, leaving scores of Americans unable to return home. This paper explores long-term aid efforts and the discourses that shaped relief after Hurricane Sandy as well as subsequent hurricanes. The paper argues that post-disaster relief in the United States offers an illustration of ebbing citizenship rights. It presents the American model as a cautionary tale against fetishization of the social contract.

Each presentation will be allocated 20 minutes. Additional time for questions and discussion will be available in each stream.


Jeevan Karki

PhD Candidate, The University of Auckland
avatar for Tricia Wachtendorf

Tricia Wachtendorf

Professor, Disaster Research Center Director, University of Delaware

Wednesday December 4, 2019 11:30am - 1:00pm NZDT
206-203 - Lecture Theatre 2