Places, people and perpetuity: Community capacities in ecologies of catastrophe

James Lewis, Ilan Kelman


Vulnerability is a multifaceted phenomenon brought about over time. Simplified interpretations based upon selective representation of current conditions serve to deny overdue attention to its root causes. As disasters themselves ignore boundaries of place and time, so also must their exploration, as exemplified by the long history of vulnerability reduction research and practice. Descriptions of the causes of vulnerability, therefore, necessarily transgress conventional disciplinary and sectoral boundaries; not to do so would disregard the very nature of the subject. Accordingly, this paper seeks to go beyond some assumed practice—such as viewing vulnerability as a contemporary snapshot of a group of people in a specific place—in an attempt to demonstrate evidence of vulnerability and to begin to reveal its causes, so that national and local, multidisciplinary and multi-sectoral applications from the past and the present might assist its long overdue reduction, now and in the future.


disaster ecology; place-based geography; resilience; risk ecology; vulnerability; catastrophe

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ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies - ISSN: 1492-9732