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Helices of disaster memory: How forgetting and remembering influence tropical cyclone response in Mauritius

Walshe, RA; Adamson, GCD; Kelman, I; (2020) Helices of disaster memory: How forgetting and remembering influence tropical cyclone response in Mauritius. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction , 50 , Article 101901. 10.1016/j.ijdrr.2020.101901. Green open access

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Abstract

Tropical cyclones have had a considerable impact on Mauritius. Large cyclones are relatively rare, and in popular imagination are thought to hit Mauritius every 15 years. Yet it has been over 25 years since the last cyclone widely considered as ‘significant’. Critically, there is little known about the role of memory in responses to cyclones and details regarding responses to past cyclones in Mauritian history are scant. This article examines past experiences and impacts of cyclones in Mauritius, as well as contemporary perceptions of cyclone vulnerability and memories of historical cyclones. The analysis draws on both community interviews and archival research conducted in Mauritius and takes a longue durée approach. This approach combines an examination of both event and process with historical discourses in an effort to uncover the long-standing and slowly changing relationships between people and extreme events. The results reveal a number of repetitive patterns of responses that act out over the long term and repeat for many of the largest cyclones, indicating that tropical cyclone impact and recovery in Mauritius is strongly conditioned by complex, cultural, and place based memory (and forgetting). While these patterns could be characterised as cycles, the research instead presents a concept of ‘helices’ as a new conceptualisation of long term disaster memory patterns. This research is part of a growing literature arguing for the need to account for the historical processes fundamental to understanding vulnerability. This has implications for disaster risk reduction (including climate change adaptation) in Mauritius, other small islands, and elsewhere.

Type: Article
Title: Helices of disaster memory: How forgetting and remembering influence tropical cyclone response in Mauritius
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.ijdrr.2020.101901
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2020.101901
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Tropical Cyclones, Mauritius, Memory, Disaster Risk Reduction, Vulnerability
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Inst for Risk and Disaster Reduction
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10113566
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