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Article
Publication date: 20 October 2021

Rodrigo Mena and Dorothea Hilhorst

Debates on the ethics of disaster and humanitarian studies concern unequal relations in research (among research institutes/researchers/stakeholders); the physical and…

Abstract

Purpose

Debates on the ethics of disaster and humanitarian studies concern unequal relations in research (among research institutes/researchers/stakeholders); the physical and psychological well-being of research participants and researchers; and the imposition of western methods, frameworks and epistemologies to the study of disasters. This paper focuses on everyday ethics: how they need to be translated throughout the everyday practices of research and how researchers can deal with the ethical dilemmas that inevitably occur.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper analyses the process of addressing ethics-related dilemmas from the first author's experiences researching disaster governance in high-intensity conflict settings, in particular drawing from 4 to 6 months of fieldwork in South Sudan and Afghanistan. In addition, ethical issues around remote research are discussed, drawing on the example of research conducted in Yemen. It is based on the personal notes taken by the first author and on the experience of both authors translating guidelines for research in remote and hazardous areas into research practices.

Findings

The paper concerns translating ethics into the everyday practices of research planning, implementation and communication. It argues for the importance of adaptive research processes with space for continuous reflection in order to advance disaster studies based on (1) equitable collaboration; (2) participatory methodologies wherever possible; (3) safety and security for all involved; (4) ethical approaches of remote research and (5) responsible and inclusive research communication and research-uptake. Openness about gaps and limitations of ethical standards, discussions with peers about dilemmas and reporting on these in research outcomes should be embedded in everyday ethics.

Originality/value

The paper contributes to discussions on everyday ethics, where ethics are integral to the epistemologies and everyday practices of research.

Details

Disaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0965-3562

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 7 July 2020

Samantha Melis and Dorothea Hilhorst

When a major landslide and floods devastated Freetown, Sierra Leone had just overcome the Ebola crisis, which had left its mark on socio-political relations between…

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Abstract

Purpose

When a major landslide and floods devastated Freetown, Sierra Leone had just overcome the Ebola crisis, which had left its mark on socio-political relations between different disaster response actors. With international disaster response frameworks increasingly shifting to local ownership, the national government was expected to assume a coordinating role. However, in “post-conflict” settings such as Sierra Leone, intra-state and state–society relations are continuously being renegotiated. This study aimed to uncover the complexities of state-led disaster response in hybrid governance setting at national and community levels in the response to the 2017 landslide and floods.

Design/methodology/approach

During the four months of fieldwork in Freetown in 2017, semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions with various state, aid and societal actors were conducted.

Findings

The findings show that a response to policy building on the idea of a uniform state response did not take into account intra-state power politics or the complexity of Sierra Leone's hybrid governance.

Practical implications

This paper argues for a more nuanced debate in humanitarian governance and practice on the localisation of aid in post-conflict and fragile settings.

Originality/value

The study's findings contribute to the literature on the disaster–conflict nexus, identifying paradoxes of localised disaster response in an environment with strong national–local tensions. The study highlights intra-local state dynamics that are usually overlooked but have a great impact on the legitimacy of different state authorities in disaster response.

Details

Disaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal, vol. 30 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0965-3562

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Article
Publication date: 3 August 2015

Dorothea Hilhorst, Judith Baart, Gemma van der Haar and Floor Maria Leeftink

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to debates on the value of indigenous knowledge for disaster risk reduction. Recent international policy papers advocate the…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to debates on the value of indigenous knowledge for disaster risk reduction. Recent international policy papers advocate the importance of indigenous knowledge and calls for its recognition. The paper aims to explore these issues in the everyday practices of disaster response by indigenous peoples and surrounding actors.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is based on a total of seven months ethnographic research in indigenous communities in Thailand and the Philippines. The Thai communities had experienced minor disasters, whereas the Philippine communities were recently hit by a major killer typhoon.

Findings

In both countries the authors found that indigenous knowledge is neither completely local, nor homogenous, nor shared. The findings caution against a view that indigenous knowledge is grounded in a long tradition of coping with disasters. Coping is embedded in social practice and responsive to change. Positive labelling of indigenous practices can help to render communities more resilient.

Research limitations/implications

The research was exploratory in nature and could be replicated and expanded in other indigenous peoples’ communities.

Practical implications

Rather than understanding indigenous peoples as simultaneously vulnerable and resilient, it calls for a more comprehensive approach to indigenous knowledge and practices around disaster.

Social implications

The limitations are shown of uncritically ascribing indigenous communities a close relation to nature. It may be unfounded and de-politicises indigenous struggles.

Originality/value

This paper approaches indigenous knowledge issues from the point of view of indigenous communities themselves.

Details

Disaster Prevention and Management, vol. 24 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0965-3562

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 3 August 2015

Roanne van Voorst, Ben Wisner, Jörgen Hellman and Gerben Nooteboom

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Abstract

Details

Disaster Prevention and Management, vol. 24 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0965-3562

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Article
Publication date: 12 June 2017

Angeliki Paidakaki and Frank Moulaert

The purpose of this paper is to advance the understanding of “resilience” by disentangling the contentious interactions of various parameters that define and guide…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to advance the understanding of “resilience” by disentangling the contentious interactions of various parameters that define and guide resilience trajectories, such as the physical infrastructure, socio-spatial inequalities, path dependencies, power relationships, competing discourses and human agency. This socio-political reconstruction of “resilience” is needed for two reasons: the concept of resilience becomes more responsive to the complex realities on the ground, and the discussion moves toward the promotion of more dynamic recovery governance models that can promote socially just allocated redundancy in housing actions, which could be seen as a key to incubating resilience.

Design/methodology/approach

This is a conceptual paper that mobilizes theories of urban political ecology, social innovation and housing with the aim to examine the tensions between various discourses that steer housing production during post-disaster recovery processes, and put a spotlight on the heterogeneity in the transformative capacity of the various actors, institutions and visions of housing systems that preexist or emerge in the post-disaster city. This heterogeneity of actors (i.e. growth coalitions, neighborhood associations and housing cooperatives) consequently leads the discussion toward the investigation of “new” roles of the state in formulating relevant disaster governance models and housing (re)construction systems.

Findings

The initial stress produced by a natural event is often extended because of long-term unmet housing needs. The repercussion of this prolonged stress is a loss of social progress partly due to the reiterated oppression of alternative housing production propositions. In this paper, the authors conclude that an asset-based community development approach to recovery can provide an antidote to the vicious cycles of social stress by opening up diverse housing options. This means that the recovery destiny is not predetermined according to pre-set ideas but is molded by the various bottom-up dynamics that democratically sketch the final socially desirable reconstruction outcome(s).

Originality/value

The contribution of this paper is twofold. By using theoretical insights from urban political ecology, housing studies and social innovation, the paper first builds up onto the current reconstruction of the notion of disaster resilience. Second, by identifying a heterogeneity of “social resilience cells”, the paper leads the discussion toward the investigation of the “new” role of the state in formulating relevant recovery governance models. In this respect, the paper builds a narrative of social justice in terms of the redistribution of resources and the cultivation of empowerment across the various housing providers who struggle for their right to the reconstruction experiment.

Details

International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment, vol. 8 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1759-5908

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