Becoming Resilient: Disaster Recovery in Post-Yolanda Philippines through Women’s Eyes
My dissertation examines the reconstruction of Tacloban City in the Philippines following typhoon Yolanda (internationally known as Haiyan), as seen through the eyes of women. In the era of resilience, a concept that has dominated disaster studies and practices in recent years, the study re-centers women’s situated knowledges of disaster recovery as a powerful starting point to investigate current organised practices through which disaster-affected communities are rebuilt, governed, and made ‘resilient’. In this sense, the research was interested in what we might learn (or rather need to unlearn) about how ‘resilience’ is inscribed in post-disaster settings, with women’s everyday realities regarded as both a category of analysis and a methodological approach for critically examining these processes. Primarily utilising PhotoKwento (storytelling with photographs), an innovative feminist method designed by the author, this qualitative research focuses on urban poor women’s experiences of disaster resettlement, a key feature of Tacloban’s attempts to ‘build back better’ and build resilience. Foregrounding women’s navigations of precarity, insecurity, and uncertainty, the findings demonstrate how processes of self-formation, the workings of emotions and aspirations, and care relations with others and the environment provide a counterbalance to the hegemonic views of ‘resilient’ recovery. From women’s everyday, embodied, and emotional experiences, the dissertation offers a reconceptualisation of ‘resilience’ as lived, grounded in feminist ethics of care. A lived resilience perspective requires the broadening of our ethico-ontological horizons to view ‘resilient’ recovery as a process of becoming – not simply driven by the goal to rebuild what has been damaged, but as a regenerative practice that centers care as a normative basis for exploring post-disaster futures.
1 Jan 2021 – 31 Dec 2021
PhD defended at
University of New South Wales
Gender and Identity