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[BOOK] Disaster Archipelago: Locating Vulnerability and Resilience in the Philippines

Updated: Mar 2, 2020

Our book 'Disaster Archipelago: Locating Power and Vulnerability in the Philippines' has launched! The books answers the questions: What can the Philippines teach us about disaster? And what can disasters teach us about the Philippines?

The book contains the chapter 'Sanay Kami sa Bagyo (We Are Used to Storms): unpacking 'irrational' evacuation decision-making within the sentient ecology during Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan)', which I co-authored with cognitive scientists Diego Maranan, Kathryn Francis and Tara Zaksaite. We held our first book launch at La Trobe University in Melbourne, as part of the International Research Forum on the Philippines (IRFP).

Image 1. 'Disaster Archipelago' book cover

Image 2. IRFP book launch poster.

Disaster Archipelago (Lexington Press, 2019) gathers the work of academics and practitioners from a number of fields: economics, anthropology, psychology, sociology, ecology, health, among others. For our own chapter, Diego, Kathryn, Tara and I combined design anthropology and cognitive psychology to understand why certain families affected by the typhoon chose not to evacuate and the sort of decisions they needed to make as they were caught in the storm surge.

Image 3. The book's Table of Contents reveals an interdisciplinary view of disaster.

Our chapter's data was drawn from my experiences doing humanitarian shelter after the typhoon (as part of WeDpro and Curiosity) and data collection was rather accidental; we did not go the conventional route of going to a field site armed with certain theories and research questions. While doing shelter assessment in Leyte, I initially thought of avoiding discussing experience of the typhoon (so as not to surface traumatic memories) and instead focus the discussion on the materials of their houses. It turned out that survivor's memories of the typhoon were very much anchored in memories of where they were specifically in their homes when the storm surges of the typhoon inundated their towns: 'The water rushed into the house as I stood in this doorway' 'Here is the beam our family clung to during the first storm surge'. The chapter tackles the histories, inequalities, and abilities that comprise experiences of the typhoon.

Image 4. Our data was based on unintended outcomes of Curiosity/WeDpro's humanitarian shelter assessment work in Leyte. Photo credit: Oliver Salva.

Big thanks to all my co-authors and editors Carin Alejandria and Will Smith, and most of all, to the people of Palo for the outpouring of stories and who carry on against the odds with such courage and dignity.

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