Other Dark Sides of Resilience: Politics and Power in Community-Based Efforts to Strengthen Resilience

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    Oceanic people and places are increasingly labelled as either 'resilient' or 'vulnerable' to disasters and climate change. Resilience is often described in disaster discourse as a strategy designed to overcome vulnerability by helping communities to 'bounce back' in the wake of 'natural' disasters. Using ethnographic research conducted with Community Disaster and Climate Change Committees (CDCs) in Vanuatu in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Pam, this paper seeks to problematise disaster responses that see the 'community' as a space to be acted upon by outsiders, or where people will respond in a unified way to the challenges of rebuilding after disaster. Using political ecology framings this paper critiques the ideas of resilience that appear entrenched in community-based disaster and climate change adaptation discourse and practice in Oceania. Rather than presupposing resilience or vulnerability, this paper details the dispersal and distribution power and agency amongst individual actors and groups that either supported or manipulated, the distribution of goods by Community Disaster Committees. In this way, it moves beyond the limitations of conceptual framings of resilience in disaster management and climate change into a more considered appraisal of power, by exploring what James Ferguson has termed 'the politics of distribution' in the context of disaster.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)55-72
    JournalAnthropological Forum
    Issue number1-2
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


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