The cultural imprint on reconstruction

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  • 1. The Cultural Imprint on Reconstruction After Disaster David Alexander University College London
  • 2. Proposition 1: Human culture offers opportunities and constraints to disaster risk reduction (DRR). Working with it, much can be achieved; working against it, even valid projects will fail because they are not culturally compatible. Proposition 2: Culture can be changed to make it more amenable to DRR – but only very slowly and with much effort.
  • 3. Sardinia, 17 Nov. 2013 - 16 dead in floods Although Italy has a disaster response capability of unparalleled excellence, its political, administrative, religious and social cultures are currently not amenable to planned disaster risk reduction.
  • 4. A model of culture
  • 5. Organisational systems: management Political systems: decisions Hazard Vulnerability Resilience Social systems: behaviour Natural systems: function Technical systems: malfunction
  • 6. Emergency not decoded Images of reality Ignorance Cultural Perceptual Symbolic constructions filter filter Diffusion of information Enlightenment Emergency decoded
  • 7. Long term Emic components Etic components Ideological (non-scientific) interpretations of disaster Short term METAMORPHOSIS OF CULTURE Learned (scientific) interpretations of disaster Experiences of culture [mass-media and consumer culture] Accumulated cultural traits and beliefs Inherited cultural background
  • 8. Retribution MEANING Retrospective interpretation Judgement Portent DISASTER ACCEPTANCE Predictive interpretation Traditional view of disaster - modern parallels?
  • 9. Event Symbolism inherent in technological culture Traditional symbolism and portent Dynamic cultural metamorphosis Interpretation
  • 10. National Regional Peer group culture Family culture Value system Work culture culture culture Personal culture
  • 11. - negative Risk perception factors + positive Total vulnerability Risk DIALECTIC Risk amplification mitigation factors factors
  • 12. Risk Perception Culture Accurate Inaccurate Decision Action Result Positive Filter Negative
  • 13. On government
  • 14. Technological, economic and social issues External hazards Regulatory role Stewardship role GOVERNMENT Management role Operational and policy risks
  • 15. Disaster Risk Policy Assessment Risk assessment • hazard • vulnerability Policy assessment • exposure • costs Expected • benefits losses • consequences Policy adoption
  • 16. The recovery triangle Reducing posttraumatic stress Re-establishing production and economic activities Recovery after disaster Political, cultural and environmental context. Physical recovery Buildings, infrastructure, transport, agriculture, etc.
  • 17. Disaster as opportunity • revitalisation of city centres • contraction of city spaces • improvement of public transport • making urban areas safer • stimulating community and occupation.
  • 18. The importance of time in reconstruction Negative: livelihoods and homes need rehabilitating as quickly as possible. Positive: time gives opportunity for consultation and allows problems to be solved as they appear, not at the end when all is done.
  • 19. IMPACT Varying context: EMERGENCY • political RESPONSE • economic • social SHORT-TERM RECOVERY CULTURAL CONTEXT P E S MEDIUM-TERM RECOVERY P E S LONG-TERM RECOVERY P E S STAGNATION RECONSTRUCTION
  • 20. On resilience
  • 21. Causes of disaster natural geophysical, technological, social RESILIENCE Human cultures constraints and opportunities Adaptation to risk IMPACTS History single and cumulative impact of past disasters
  • 22. Resilience: facets... Organisation: • public admin. • private sector • civil society Individual Community ...and relationships VULNERABILITY FRAGILITY SUSCEPTIBILITY physical environmental social economic health-related cultural educational infrastructural institutional RESILIENCE COPING
  • 23. BENIGN (healthy) at the service of the people IDEOLOGY interplay dialectic CULTURE MALIGN (corrupt) at the service of vested interests Justification Development [spiritual, cultural, political, economic]
  • 24. Lisbon, post 1755: monumental reconstruction
  • 25. A monument not wanted. Kesennuma City Cultural conflict between the desire to commemorate and the desire to forget.
  • 26. Town of Gibellina, Belice Valley, Sicily after the 1968 earthquake (Italy) An ambitious "social engineering" project to create a sophisticated post-modern town out of an agricultural settlement.
  • 27. Conclusions
  • 28. DEMAND NEEDS POTENTIAL TO BE EXPLOITED SUPPLY CREATION OF A NEW CULTURE OF CIVIL PROTECTION
  • 29. Resilient culture Culture of resilience
  • 30. The creation of a culture of civil protection HABIT MASS EDUCATION PROGRAMME CULTURE SOCIAL CAPITAL Augmentation INSTRUMENTS OF DISSEMINATION • mass media • targeted campaign • social networks • internet
  • 31. "Pandora's box" model of disaster • 'window of opportunity' for bad things • disaster reveals socio-economic ills • amplifies corruption and inequality • disaster acts as a mirror of what is generally wrong with society • hope was at the bottom of the box.
  • 32. THE PILLARS OF MODERN LIFE Ideocentrism idealism principle belief faith virtue charity service defence of principles Morality Negative fanaticism ultranationalism authoritarianism backlash unscrupulousness corruption opportunism censure PHILOSOPHICAL SPIRIT Positive Luchrocentrism financial repression debt burden consumerism FLESH Technocentrism ingegnuity pragmatism technological progress crass materialism galloping consumption pollution and waste technological hegemony MECHANISTIC capital availability wealth diffusion financial security
  • 33. Ideocentrism + ideal: effective disaster mitigation - fanaticism: politicization of humanitariam relief Morality + virtue: untiring application of mitigation measures - corruption: failure to observe building codes Luchrocentrism + financial security: monetary reserves vs. disaster - financial repression: poverty --> vulnerability Technocentrism + ingenuity: new hazard monitoring systems - technological hegemony: unfair distribution of mitigation benefits ...culturally conditioned.
  • 34. david.alexander@ucl.ac uk emergency-planning.blogspot.com www.slideshare.com/dealexander Ishinomaki Thank you for your attention!