Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Disaster resilience in L'Aquila (Italy)

On 6th April 2009, an earthquake hit the Italian city of L’Aquila and definitively compromised its pre-existing social and physical structures. In disaster studies, L’Aquila has represented the litmus of “traditional” top-down and clientelistic practices by Italian government and the strong politicization of post-disaster emergency, reconstruction and recovery. The new sprawling city resulting by institutional strategies ignored the social and spatial peculiarities of L’Aquila and trivialized the centuries-old relations between the historical centre of the city and its surrounding neighbourhoods, with current and long-term consequences for the everyday life of the inhabitants.

Several scholars have explored the multiple and complex dimensions of post-disaster L’Aquila: from psychological consequences to changes in the built environment, from social transformations to urban networks and connectivity issues, from social movements to cultural heritage damages. Recently, I have published two papers aiming to investigate the resilience process enacted by emergent grassroots groups in the reconstruction of L’Aquila. These groups are spontaneous and autonomous, and proposed and enacted own ideas and initiatives in reconstructing the city.

The first paper is co-authored with Francesca Fois; it analyses in-depth the functioning of the EVA ecovillage community in developing its own resilience process and in exploiting the window of opportunity, opened by the earthquake, through sustainable practices of everyday life. The second paper analyses and describes the disaster resilience by some emergent groups in L’Aquila, considered as a shared and bottom-up process, rather than a top-down and paternalistic outcome. The paper asserts the integration of the disaster resilience process into institutional strategies would have more successful targeted the needs of local communities during the reconstruction process. Both papers shed light on a qualitative dimension of resilience, that requires more investigation and debate in literature to clearly depict the social and political context in which disasters and related resilience take place.  

If you are interested in my papers, you can find here the first and here the second, and both on my Academia profile.

Any comment is welcome.

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