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Between oblivion and drastic evidence: How local communities cope with seismic risk by forgetting and remembering

Abstract : Drawing upon a socio-constructivist perspective, this paper aims to gain insight into how two communities in the Italian Apennines region - differentially exposed to severe earthquakes in the past - remember, understand and plan for seismic phenomena. Avezzano was completely devastated in 1915, while the last significant event in Sulmona dates to 1706. However, both communities have indirectly experienced recent serious seismic events (e.g., L'Aquila earthquake in 2009 and Amatrice earthquake in 2016) as well as directly experienced lesser local tremblors. Interviews with citizens (N = 37) and stakeholders (N = 18) were conducted in the two cities and content-analysed with the support of NVivo software. The results show substantial differences in how respondents understand seismic events, access this information and prepare preventive strategies depending on their place of residence and role. The Avezzano community shares a more detached view, while the Sulmona community gives a more concerned picture. Moreover, the stakeholders tend to present an optimistic scenario, while citizens express a more critical viewpoint. Overall, the interview contents may be organised around two main oppositions: fatalism vs. empowerment in the face of an earthquake threat; and the will to forget about this risk vs. the need to remember it. The positioning on these two oppositions is defined by psychological, social and structural characteristics of individuals, and give rise to different representations of seismic risk and management. Such representations have practical implications for how the issue is addressed and faced in the communities' everyday life.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, August 24, 2021 - 12:09:58 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, May 17, 2022 - 3:37:32 AM




Sonia Brondi, Lucilla Benedetti, Rocco Claudio Tanga, Raquel Bertoldo. Between oblivion and drastic evidence: How local communities cope with seismic risk by forgetting and remembering. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, Elsevier, 2021, 56, pp.102132. ⟨10.1016/j.ijdrr.2021.102132⟩. ⟨hal-03325065⟩



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