Disasta: rethinking the notion of disaster in the wake of cyclone Pam : Session 5: Natural disasters in Oceania

Abstract : Tongoa was one of the worst-hit islands in Vanuatu when it was struck on 13 March 2015 by Cyclone Pam, the strongest event recorded in the South Pacific for several decades. Torrential rains, rough seas and sustained winds devastated the landscape and livelihoods; the shore was covered with a thick layer of eroded soil, the vegetation was stripped of its leaves, the gardens were wiped out, and most houses were damaged. However exceptional this cyclone might have been, such disruptive events are frequent and widespread on Tongoa Island: landslides, volcanic eruptions, cyclones, droughts, etc., all contribute to shaping the universe of its inhabitants. “Disaster” is a subjective term, varying with circumstances, the impact of the phenomenon and the cultural and social identity of the group affected. This paper seeks to understand the category of disasta and how it is constituted in the context of Tongoa Island, where there is no vernacular word to express the concept of catastrophe. Is there a threshold with which to measure and define disasters? These reflections from the perspective of an anthropology of nature and an anthropology of disaster reveal how considerations around the notion of catastrophe are closely intertwined with the relationships between people and their environment.
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https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-01552846
Contributor : Maëlle Calandra <>
Submitted on : Monday, July 3, 2017 - 11:59:19 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, January 18, 2018 - 1:30:57 AM

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Maëlle Calandra. Disasta: rethinking the notion of disaster in the wake of cyclone Pam : Session 5: Natural disasters in Oceania. European Society for Oceanists (ESfO) 2017 Conference «Experiencing Pacific Environments», Jun 2017, Munich, Germany. ⟨halshs-01552846⟩

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