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Article
Publication date: 10 August 2018

David E. Alexander

The purpose of this paper is to offer a critical examination of the aftermath of the L’Aquila earthquake of 6 April 2009. It considers the elements of the recovery process…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to offer a critical examination of the aftermath of the L’Aquila earthquake of 6 April 2009. It considers the elements of the recovery process that are unique or exceptional and endeavours to explain them.

Design/methodology/approach

The analysis is based on a survey and synthesis of the abundant literature on the disaster, coupled with observations from the author’s many visits to L’Aquila and personal involvement in the debates on the questions raised during the aftermath.

Findings

Several aspects of the disaster are unique. These include the use of large, well-appointed buildings as temporary accommodation and the efforts to use legal processes to obtain justice for alleged mismanagement of both the early emergency situation and faults in the recovery process.

Research limitations/implications

Politics, history, economics and geography have conspired to make the L’Aquila disaster and its aftermath a multi-layered event that poses considerable challenges of interpretation.

Practical implications

The L’Aquila case teaches first that moderate seismic events can entail a long and difficult process of recovery if the initial vulnerability is high. Second, for processes of recovery to be rational, they need to be safeguarded against the effects of political expediency and bureaucratic delay.

Social implications

Many survivors of the L’Aquila disaster have been hostages to fortune, victims as much of broader political and socio-economic forces than of the earthquake itself.

Originality/value

Although there are now many published analyses of the L’Aquila disaster, as the better part of a decade has elapsed since the event, there is value in taking stock and making a critical assessment of developments. The context of this disaster is dynamic and extraordinarily sophisticated, and it provides the key to interpretation of developments that otherwise would probably seem illogical.

Details

Disaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal, vol. 28 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0965-3562

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Book part
Publication date: 26 November 2021

Eirini Glynou-Lefaki

This chapter embraces a rhythmanalytic approach to address the complexities of a city recovering from a disaster. Bridging Henri Lefebvre's work on everyday life with his…

Abstract

This chapter embraces a rhythmanalytic approach to address the complexities of a city recovering from a disaster. Bridging Henri Lefebvre's work on everyday life with his later work on rhythms this chapter engages his theory to analyse the case of L'Aquila, a city in central Italy that was destroyed by an earthquake in 2009. To this day, the city's skyline is dominated by cranes, while life unfolds along with sounds of the ongoing reconstruction. While the city is still recovering from the earthquake, the landscape of ruins co-exists with a landscape of construction. More than 10 years after the earthquake stripped away life from its historical centre, the city continues to live in a temporal in-between the disaster and its future ‘rebirth’. While most of the current research on the city neglects the city's everyday experience, my research decentres the debate by analysing the everyday rhythms of L'Aquila's historical centre. Additionally, drawing from walking interviews this chapter highlights the perplexing aspects of everyday life in the city emphasising how the city is negotiated and learned from the locals. This chapter highlights the way different temporalities blur in the everyday practices of reconstruction, emphasising how the city is lived and created in the here-and-now.

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Rhythmanalysis
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83909-973-1

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Article
Publication date: 3 April 2019

Gianmaria Valent

The purpose of this paper is to examine the disruption and reconfiguration of the territorial organisation of the central Italian town of L’Aquila resulting from actions…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the disruption and reconfiguration of the territorial organisation of the central Italian town of L’Aquila resulting from actions taken by the special commissioner, a plenipotentiary official appointed by the central government, during the ten-month emergency period following the 2009 earthquake. The study attempts to determine how during the commissioner’s short tenure the territory of L’Aquila was restructured for many years to come.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper discusses two major issues: first, the short-term reconfiguration of the territorial organisation through mixed operative centres (Centri Operativi Misti, henceforth COMs); and, second, the long-term fragmentation of the physical and social fabric of the town through the resettlement of thousands of families in 19 semi-permanent housing developments located in outlying, rural areas of the municipality. The methods adopted were both qualitative and quantitative. The qualitative methods involved in-depth examination of official documents and interviews with key witnesses such as local administrators, citizens and activists. Quantitative methods included the GIS analysis of spatial and census data to assess changes in population after the earthquake.

Findings

The most significant finding of this study concerns the COMs and their misuse as a tool of centralised, authoritarian governance. Analysis of the territory’s reorganisation revealed that the model of emergency management followed in L’Aquila, far from taking into account unique features of the local population and territory, was hetero-centred and consistent with neoliberal thought. Understanding violence to be an unfolding process, the author argues that such a model of management can be seen as an application of state violence.

Originality/value

This paper adds a new case study to the discussion of the role of the state and the application of neoliberal policies in disaster recovery. The main originality of the paper lies in its focus on COMs and their peculiar use as a tool for implementing an authoritarian model of disaster management.

Details

Disaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal, vol. 28 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0965-3562

Keywords

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 4 December 2018

Angelo Jonas Imperiale and Frank Vanclay

The purpose of this paper is to reflect on what can be learned about disaster risk reduction (DRR) from the L’Aquila trial of scientists. The court case was initiated…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to reflect on what can be learned about disaster risk reduction (DRR) from the L’Aquila trial of scientists. The court case was initiated because of a controversial meeting on 31 March 2009 of the Major Risks Committee (MRC), held under the auspices of the Italian Department of Civil Protection. The purpose of the meeting was to consider (prior to the fatal earthquake of 6 April 2009) disaster risk in the L’Aquila area, which was being affected by an earthquake swarm since October 2008.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors undertook a document analysis of trial materials, and a review of academic and media commentary about the trial.

Findings

The legal process revealed that disaster governance was inadequate and not informed by the DRR paradigm or international guidelines. Risk assessment was carried out only in a techno-scientific manner, with little acknowledgement of the social issues influencing risks at the local community level. There was no inclusion of local knowledge or engagement of local people in transformative DRR strategies.

Originality/value

Most previous commentary is inadequate in terms of not considering the institutional, scientific and social responsibilities for DRR as exposed by the trial. This paper is unique in that it considers the contents of the MRC meeting as well as all trial documents. It provides a comprehensive reflection on the implications of this case for DRR and the resilience of peoples and places at risk. It highlights that a switch from civil protection to community empowerment is needed to achieve sustainable outcomes at the local level.

Details

Disaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal, vol. 28 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0965-3562

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 2019

Giorgos Koukoufikis

The purpose of this paper is to critically examine the “knowledge city” spatial socio-economic imaginary used in the post-earthquake city of L’Aquila, Italy, to promote…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to critically examine the “knowledge city” spatial socio-economic imaginary used in the post-earthquake city of L’Aquila, Italy, to promote its socio-economic redevelopment.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper counters primary and secondary data with the expected qualities of a knowledge city. The analysis is supported by the literature review on knowledge-cities and post-disaster redevelopment, local and national documentation review, on-site observations and an inquiry of the case of the Gran Sasso Science Institute, the leading project towards the implementation of the knowledge-city agenda through interviews with key actors and a survey among its researchers.

Findings

Post-disaster realities and path-dependency leave little room for a positive path-shaping redevelopment trajectory related to a knowledge-city urban archetype. This vision promotes materialism and intellectualism from local, national and international stakeholders; however, the city lacks specific urban qualities to attract and maintain highly skilled labour and investments, while negative socio-economic trends still continue a decade after the earthquake.

Research limitations/implications

The city’s post-disaster recovery and redevelopment contain certain degrees of inertia. The early stage of it, the lack of certain secondary data, and the focus of the paper on specific indicators limit the opportunity for stronger reasoning.

Originality/value

The analysis reveals that the redevelopment vision of the knowledge city was hastily adopted. The mismatch between reality and expectations highlights the need for post-disaster territories to avoid overestimation of their capabilities and adjusts their redevelopment strategies to local characteristics adopting modest future projections.

Details

Disaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal, vol. 28 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0965-3562

Keywords

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 13 May 2020

Angelo Jonas Imperiale and Frank Vanclay

We consider what happened in the initial reconstruction interventions following the 6 April 2009 earthquake in L'Aquila (Italy). Using the disaster risk reduction and…

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1775

Abstract

Purpose

We consider what happened in the initial reconstruction interventions following the 6 April 2009 earthquake in L'Aquila (Italy). Using the disaster risk reduction and resilience paradigm, we discuss the cognitive and interactional failures of top-down approaches, and we analyse the main constraints to enacting inclusive social learning and socially-sustainable transformation and building back better more resilient communities in post-disaster reconstruction.

Design/methodology/approach

Our evidence comes from participant observation, action anthropology and analytic auto-ethnography conducted during the reconstruction phase following the L'Aquila earthquake. Findings were triangulated with document analysis, media analysis and retrospective interviewing conducted in 2013 and 2017.

Findings

The shift from civil defence to civil protection did not bring any advance in disaster management and development practice in terms of DRR and resilience. The militaristic command-and-control approach, which is still in vogue among civil protection systems, means that local political leaders become the civil protection authorities in a disaster area. As in the L'Aquila case, this exacerbates local social and environmental risks and impacts, inhibits local communities from learning and restricts them from participating in post-disaster interventions.

Originality/value

Most previous commentary on disaster recovery and reconstruction following the L'Aquila earthquake has focussed on the top-down approach carried out by the national government and the Italian Department of Civil Protection (DCP). This paper is unique in that it sheds light on how the command-and-control approach was also implemented by local authority figures and on how this undermined building back better more resilient communities.

Details

Disaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal, vol. 29 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0965-3562

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Article
Publication date: 31 July 2019

Teresa Galanti and Michela Cortini

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the reaction of female workers to the earthquake event that shocked the city of L’Aquila in April 2009, with a specific focus…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the reaction of female workers to the earthquake event that shocked the city of L’Aquila in April 2009, with a specific focus on work as a recovery factor.

Design/methodology/approach

The selected sample consists of current or former resident women in the affected province of L’Aquila, who participated in a series of focus group discussions on the ability to reconstruct their own professional identity after the earthquake. The focus group seemed to be the perfect instrument for this research, because of its ability to generate a true discussion among a group of people on the research topic of this study. The collected data were analyzed both in terms of metaphors, as well as linguistic agentivity and by automatic content analysis.

Findings

From the analysis of the data, emerges the value that adds to the sense of identity continuity for the women in the sample, together with interesting differences between employed and self-employed workers that are characterized by distinct challenges and assurances. In regards to the effects of gender in response to disaster events, the results make a peculiar echo to the studies on public-private space dichotomy developed by Fordham, according to which, during a disaster, women are not allowed to develop work-related desires. For the group of women that the authors interviewed, the challenge to have family focused or work focused desires was clearly evident; they seem predetermined to the above-mentioned dichotomy, valid in both directions: the women who invested in work and have become entrepreneurs seem to have no chance of a private life and, on the contrary, the women who were focused on more traditional family roles seem to have no chance in terms of job opportunities.

Originality/value

Based on the authors’ knowledge this is the first time that focus groups are used to assess the value that work had in supporting individual recovery for women in the aftermath of the L’Aquila earthquake.

Details

Disaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal, vol. 28 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0965-3562

Keywords

Abstract

Details

Disaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal, vol. 28 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0965-3562

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 19 January 2021

Massimo Sargiacomo and Stephen P. Walker

The purpose of this paper is to investigate how public/private hybrid and ambiguous organizations played pivotal roles in a governmental programme of housing…

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1102

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate how public/private hybrid and ambiguous organizations played pivotal roles in a governmental programme of housing reconstruction following a major earthquake in central Italy in 2009. Venturing beyond the boundaries of institutional isomorphism and using a Foucauldian approach, the longitudinal analysis seeks to illuminate accounting and performance challenges and provide insights to the calculative techniques associated with evacuee housing.

Design/methodology/approach

In “act 1” this paper investigates the role of a consortium created during the recovery stage of the disaster to construct temporary housing. In “act 2” attention shifts to consortia established for the reconstruction of buildings in devastated communities. The total observation period is 11 years. 31 semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 key-actors. A broad range of official documents was also consulted.

Findings

In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake a comprehensive reporting system was established to facilitate the construction of 19 new towns for 15,000 evacuees. The mix of accountants, engineers and architects who developed the system and a building prototype evidences the assembly of diverse calculative techniques by different experts and the de-territorialization of subject disciplines. During reconstruction technologies of government included the introduction of standardised systems and vocabularies that homogenised administrative procedures among diverse experts.

Research limitations/implications

This paper provides academics and policymakers with insights to accounting, performance management and accountability in hybrid organizations in the largely unexplored realm of post-disaster evacuee housing. Further studies are needed to examine the politics of calculation in similar contexts.

Originality/value

This paper fills a gap in the literature by exploring the role played by individual experts working for hybrid organizations. Further, by exploring actual practices over an extended period of post-disaster recovery and reconstruction, the study highlights how experts intervened to solve problems at the meso-political level and at the micro-organizational level.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 10 June 2019

Isabella Tomassi and Giuseppe Forino

The purpose of this paper is to aim at exploring the relationship between community building and the changes occurred in the context of a post-disaster self-built…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to aim at exploring the relationship between community building and the changes occurred in the context of a post-disaster self-built ecovillage (EcoVillaggio Autocostruito (EVA)), spontaneously born after the L’Aquila earthquake in 2009. The community eventually dissolved in 2014, following a series of changes in the organization, that resulted in an increasingly centralized decision-making process, and in individual and community relationships, that were fueled by conflicts and contrasts.

Design/methodology/approach

Through a self-ethnography method, the paper provides the insider perspective of the lead author who was a part of EVA since the beginning. Self-ethnography allowed developing a narrative of EVA across its life course.

Findings

Findings reveal that the community into EVA was initially pursuing community-building goals through self-construction, sustainability, mutuality and reciprocity relationships out of market. However, several events occurred and changed community goals, organization and decision making. Eventually, individual goals and vertical decision making emerged among the community members, leading to the death of EVA.

Research limitations/implications

The paper just considered those main events that marked the collective and individual life of the lead author since the beginning until the end of the ecovillage. Others events, equally important, were not considered due to word length. In addition, self-ethnography is still considered by some authors as a subjective method.

Originality/value

The paper is one of the few exploring community experiences into post-disaster ecovillages. Moreover, there are no papers investigating post-disaster ecovillages through a self-ethnography approach. Therefore, the paper offers an innovative and original perspective on the under-investigated topic of post-disaster ecovillages and employs a promising research method in disaster studies.

Details

Disaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal, vol. 28 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0965-3562

Keywords

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