Disasters as transformative opportunities: Indigenous Australian, Taiwanese & Zimbabwean communities recovering and rebuilding stronger

Petra Buergelt, Lawurrpa Elaine Maypilama, Chin-ju Lin, Apu'u Kaaviana, Bev Sithole , Tahir Ali, Douglas Paton

Research output: Contribution to conference (non-published works)Poster

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Abstract

In the 21st Century, disasters and pandemics of unprecedented scales across the world are increasing the awareness of people that we are experiencing an existential crisis. Commonly, crises are interpreted as problems entailing great suffering. While acknowledging this “dark side” of crises, in this presentation we suggest in line with the Chinese symbol of crises and the original meaning of risk that crises also create spaces for new opportunities and elaborate on the “bright side” of crises. Drawing upon transformative learning theory, symbolic interactionism and narrative theory, we propose that disasters offer during the recovering and rebuilding phases opportunities for individual and collective transformation and thus can function as catalysts for societal turning points. Crises interrupt largely unconscious interpretations and actions that have become dysfunctional and create spaces for people, communities and societies to create ways of being, knowing and doing that enable them better being healthy/well, fulfilling their needs and thriving. However, articulation of the actual individual and social processes that facilitate using and sustaining the transformative potential disasters offer is still scarce. We start addressing this knowledge gap by sharing how an Australian and a Taiwanese Indigenous communities used, and is sustaining, the transformative potential of a long-term social disaster (colonialization) and ‘natural’ disasters (cyclone Natham and Lam in Northern Australia in 2015 and typhoon Morakot in Taiwan in 2009) during recovery and rebuilding. The insights offered will highlight that the recovery and rebuilding phases could be utilized as long-term transformation processes that reduce the risk of future social and ‘natural’ disasters and pandemics. That is, perceiving recovery and rebuilding as transformative opportunities and as the critical starting rather than end points in the DRR spiral could be highly useful for turning the tide. It will also become apparent that Indigenous peoples, and especially women, play a pivotal role in facilitating crises being used as opportunities for individual and collective transformations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages1-62
Number of pages62
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020
EventAustralian National University Disaster Risk Science Institute Special Events Series - ANU , Canberra , Australia
Duration: 12 Aug 202012 Aug 2020

Seminar

SeminarAustralian National University Disaster Risk Science Institute Special Events Series
CountryAustralia
CityCanberra
Period12/08/2012/08/20

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