Accepted Papers:

Post-disaster governance and the peasant morality: houses, everyday life and expectations of a collective future for Paracatu de Baixo  


Gabriela Neves de Lima (London School of Economics and Political Science)
Eduardo Oliveira (Arquitetos Sem Fronteiras Brasil)

Paper Short Abstract:

This paper examines the moral conflict experienced by members of a rural community during the processes of reparation and reconstruction installed after the collapse of a tailings dam in 2015, belonging to the mining company Samarco, owned by Vale and BHP Billiton, in Mariana - MG, Brazil.

Paper long abstract:

Within the processes of reparation and reconstruction installed after the Fundão dam disaster, the category of the "affected person" ("atingido") emerges as a designation for a social subject linked to an institutional arrangement, both of which are characterized by their exceptionality and transience. Through an ethnographic research conducted with displaced families from the rural neighborhood of Paracatu de Baixo that are temporarily dwelling in the municipal seat of Mariana, we sought to better understand the effects of the disaster and its governance according to their practices and perceptions. Delving into the everyday experiences of the women of the community helped unveil a series of ruptures and continuities in its social and political organization that were engendered by the destruction of its houses and the current provisional living arrangements. The house (casa), as a socio-spatial and moral category, is a heuristic tool for understanding the conflict between the institutional treatment of reparations and reconstruction and the peasant morality, the latter being characterized by care, reciprocity, hierarchy and hard work. From a micropolitical perspective, the processes entailing the singularization of the material and symbolic losses were prevented by the immediate establishment of a post-disaster governance structure responsible for transforming the notion of the "atingido" into a subjectivation and identity tied to benefits and dependency. In this context, displaced residents may negotiate subjectivities and modes of action, while remaining marginalized in the decision-making processes.

Panel P006
Post-disaster situations and the appropriation of disaster governance from below [Disaster and Crisis Anthropology Network (DICAN)]