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Stories of relocation to the Waikato: Spaces of emotion and affect in the 2010/2011 Canterbury earthquakes, Aotearoa New Zealand

Emotion and affect are enmeshed in the lives of relocated Cantabrians. A project on the lived geographies of relocation disrupts the predominance of model based approaches in hazards and disaster literature. The previously taken-for-granted aspects of how people relate to one another and are in turn shaped by those relationships are of central concern. The research brings together the stories of people from 19 households who moved to the Waikato region of New Zealand as a result of the Canterbury earthquakes and aftershocks. It is argued that exploring relocation through the lens of emotion and affect can give rise to an understanding of the collective aspects of non-conscious, embodied and emotional life-worlds of relocatees. Semi-structured interviews, spontaneous focus groups and follow-up interviews were used to access emotional and affectual geographies and participants’ life experiences. Three main themes are addressed in relation to disasters: 1) bodies which are proximate and connected to other bodies; 2) sub-conscious and psychosocial aspects of relocation, especially ambivalence; and 3) the co-mingling of materials (buildings, architecture) with an emotional and affective sense of self. To explain each of these themes in turn, attention is paid to what bodies do to illustrate that proximity and connection are both present and desired by respondents in post-disaster and relocated spaces. The second theme of sub-conscious and psychosocial impacts explores how ambivalence exposes complexity and contradiction, which are tightly bound to the experience of relocation. The third theme of materiality is used to make clear how bodies and buildings are co-constituted. Homes, churches and other city buildings can become containers of memory inspiring feelings of dread, loss, and grief but also, comfort, belonging and identity. Emotion and affect, then, are critical to understanding the impacts of the earthquakes and relocation on people and communities, they are a call to think about complexity and are considered to be a large component of the human experience of surviving a disaster.
Type of thesis
Adams-Hutcheson, G. (2014). Stories of relocation to the Waikato: Spaces of emotion and affect in the 2010/2011 Canterbury earthquakes, Aotearoa New Zealand (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/8681
University of Waikato
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