Change, continuity and the making of a polity of disaster remembering in the wake of la Inundación in Santa Fe City (Argentina)
Susann Baez Ullberg
Paper short abstract:
The governmental flaw in mitigating the 2003 flood in Santa Fe City (Argentina) made different groups of disaster victims mobilise protest in collaboration. Together they constituted a polity of disaster remembering, producing both change and continuity in terms of resilience and vulnerability.
Paper long abstract:
In April 2003 occurred in Santa Fe in the Northeast of Argentina what came to be called "la Inundación," the worst flood ever in the history of the city. 23 people died during the emergency and 130.000 residents of the city's half a million had to evacuate. The social and material effects of the disaster were enormous, and reconstruction took months and years. There was a striking lack of preparedness among the governmental institutions and the population alike, despite a long history of recurrent flooding of the city. In contrast to prior disastrous floods, la inundación was rather quickly politicised through the memory work and street protests that disaster victims engaged in. This paper describes ethnographically how disaster memory was produced in collaboration between different groups of disaster victims and others, constituting what I call a polity of remembering. This memory work and its social and political effects seems to indicate a transformation in how flooding is conceptualized in Santa Fe, hence reducing risk and enhancing resilience. Yet the translocal and transtemporal fieldwork carried out for the purposes of this study also reveals that apparent change has been relative and not "all inclusive" in this heterogeneous and socially unequal urban community.
Living with disasters: hazards, continuity and change