Urban Disaster Governance: Resilience and Rights in the Unequal City

Forskningsoutput: AvhandlingDoktorsavhandlingSamling av artiklar


While a hazard, such as an earthquake, may result from natural processes, the unequal ways in which it impacts people’s lives are not an outcome dictated by forces of nature. Indeed, the disaster unfolding from a hazard has much to do with how human societies are governed. In a disaster, marginalised people are more likely than others to lose their homes, livelihoods, lives, and people they care about. Meanwhile, powerful actors are likely able to protect themselves from many negative consequences of hazards and disasters, while sometimes even being able to capture potential benefits. These inequalities become exposed in the case of urban disasters, where people living in neighbouring residential areas may experience very different outcomes from a disaster. Addressing these inequalities calls for scrutiny on disaster governance, and the ways in which diverse actors address and experience disaster impacts.

This thesis explores how disasters in the unequal city are governed, particularly within the frame of resilience discourse. Furthermore, the work strives to imagine more just urban disaster governance focused on the rights of people. The analysis is focused on elaborating and explicating the conceptualisations of resilience and rights within academic and expert literatures. The focus is on the critical analysis of bodies of knowledge on disaster governance.

The thesis draws from and contributes to the interdisciplinary fields of disaster studies and human geography. The key contributions of the thesis lie in its four essays, which adopt diverse perspectives to disaster governance research and policy. A key emerging theme is the framing of subjectivities of disaster-affected people within disaster studies. Three subjectivity categories are identified: the beneficiary-stakeholder that is steered by actors ‘from above’; the active citizen that has agency only in relation to a pre-existing and persisting governance institutions; and the territorial community that is a political and organised group of people that can assert claims.

In addition to these subjectivity categories, a broader narrative emerges in the thesis: one where a diffused network of private and non-state actors increasingly has the resources and power to shape how the exception of disasters is framed and governed. Against this backdrop, conceptualisations (e.g. resilient community), discourses (e.g. urban resilience) and streams of literature that may be benign in and of themselves may shape disaster politics in problematic ways. They might decentre and obscure underlying patterns of marginalisation and facilitation that result in unequal disaster risk – at worst delegitimising the politics that target structural causes of disasters.
KvalifikationDoktor i filosofi
  • Aspara, Jaakko, Examenshandledare
  • Solitander, Nikodemus, Thesis supervisor
Tryckta ISBN978-952-232-406-1
Elektroniska ISBN978-952-232-407-8
StatusPublicerad - 2020
MoE-publikationstypG5 Doktorsavhandling (artikel)


  • 512 Företagsekonomi


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