Accepted Paper:

Performing community design after disaster: humanitarian floats in post-tsunami Sri Lanka  
Mara Benadusi (University of Catania, Department of Political and Social Sciences)

Paper short abstract:

The paper describes how different social groups involved in the process of resettlement in Sri Lanka imagined and translated into practice the goal of "community design" by a process of negotiation and hybridation among different sets of knowledge and practice.

Paper long abstract:

Community-oriented tools and technologies have become a strategic focus within humanitarian interventions after catastrophe, when thinking about how supporting residential groups in their efforts of learning to survive. The paper examines how imagining and performing community was a critical task in post-tsunami Sri Lanka, while promoting inside and outside perspectives of what the "community" is about. Instead of developing what is expected, a common sense of purpose and a collaborative desire to share work-related knowledge and experience, participants manipulated, distorted and reconfigured meanings and identities, both on local and global scale, in order to strategically adapt themselves to the post-disaster practices of social engineering. In this sense, far from presenting the catastrophe as a tabula rasa in which people's ability to make meaning is threatened or destroyed, the case I am about to introduce is an example of the kind of highly politicized and projective undertaking that follows a disaster. The paper shows how the catastrophe is not only suffered but also staged and acted out.

Panel W083
Imagining crisis through international intervention