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Durham University

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Research lectures, seminars and events

The events listed in this area are research seminars, workshops and lectures hosted by Durham University departments and research institutes. If you are not a member of the University, but  wish to enquire about attending one of the events please contact the organiser or host department.


 

Dr Kasia Mika - Caribbean vulnerabilities, disasters, and the everyday work of repair

21st January 2021, 16:00, Zoom, Dr Kasia Mika (Queen Mary University of London)

‘I must be given words to refashion futures/like a healer’s hand’ (Kamau Brathwaite): Caribbean vulnerabilities, disasters, and the everyday work of repair.

All talks are free and open to the public.

The zoom link will be sent out via the mailing list of the Centre for Culture and Ecology (normally on Tuesdays before the event). You can be added to the list by emailing cce.admin@durham.ac.uk. If you want to join for just this talk, you can email cce.admin@durham.ac.uk or k.d.oloff@durham.ac.uk.

Abstract

This presentation will draw on the recent history of Caribbean disasters (Goudougoudou 2010, hurricanes Matthew, Irma, and Maria) and the work of Kamau Brathwaite and Louis-Philippe Dalembert as a starting point for an exploration of multi-scalar vulnerability, unhealed futures, and the ongoing work of repair. These concepts allow to move away from understandings of disasters in a binary temporal mode which posits disasters as time- and space-bound events with a clearly identifiable pre- and post-disaster moment. Within this view, post-disaster recovery is made synonymous with the return to the ‘pre-disaster normal.’ In contradistinction, I will argue for a processual and interconnected view with multi-scalar vulnerability, which made the disaster possible in the first place, at its core. Multi-scalar vulnerability manifests itself and cuts across multiple, non-exclusive levels—one’s family position, gender, citizenship status or economic position, among others—is embedded within, and contributes to the overlapping dynamics of regional, hemispheric and global politics and histories. It is also expression of uneven connectedness and a direct indication of a wider, not always immediately visible catastrophic susceptibility to environmental hazards and phenomena, one that stretches well beyond Haiti and the Caribbean. Consequently, post-disaster future is a work of repair, making and unmaking, or, in Veena Das and Arthur Kleinman’s words: ‘engaging in repair of relationships in the deep processes of family, neighborhood, and community […] resuming the task of living (and not only surviving)’ (Das and Kleinman 4), knowing, at the same time, that ‘while everyday life may be seen as the site of the ordinary, this ordinariness is itself recovered in the face of the most recalcitrant of tragedies: it is the site of many buried memories and experiences’ (Das and Kleinman 4). In short, the future is a work of healing, is a work of repair: against illusions of an achievable wholeness, it recognizes that personal losses and collective vulnerability might never be fully alleviated.

About Dr Kasia Mika

@kasiamika1

Dr Kasia Mika is a Lecturer in Comparative Literature at Queen Mary University London. Prior to that, she was a Lecturer in Literary and Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam and held a postdoc fellowship at KITLV (The Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies) in Comparative Caribbean Studies.

She is the author of Disasters, Vulnerability, and Narratives: Writing Haiti’s Futures (Routledge 2019). The monograph takes narrative responses to the 2010 Haiti earthquake as a starting point for an analysis of notions of disaster, vulnerability, reconstruction and recovery. Mika turns to concepts of hinged chronologies, slow healing, and remnant dwelling, offering a vision of open-ended Caribbean futures, full of resolve. Building on this work, she produced a short documentary, Intranqu’îllités (2019; with Ed Owles, Postcode Films), on art and creativity in Haiti (filmed on site) which won the AHRC Research in Film Award (2019). Her other publications appeared in The Journal of Haitian Studies; Moving Worlds; Karib; Area Journal.

Contact cce.admin@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.

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