Surviving Maria from Dominica: Memory, Displacement and Bittersweet Beginnings

Philogene Heron, Adom. 2018. Surviving Maria from Dominica: Memory, Displacement and Bittersweet Beginnings. Transforming Anthropology, 26(2), pp. 118-135. ISSN 1051-0559 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This paper refracts questions of human 'resilience' through the prism of social relations. Herein, it asks how Caribbean people utilize interpersonal networks, patterns of sociality and kinship relations to mitigate the exigencies of increasingly violent hurricanes. The essay draws on the individual narratives of three Dominicans: a librarian who recollects moments of familial support during hurricane David of 1979; the post-Maria journey of dislocation of a young woman as she ventures through an extended kin network, finding herself adrift in East London, far from loved ones; and a teacher and mother, who finally gets her 'papers' for America - reunited with her husband after years of waiting, yet, forced to leave her mother, father, and siblings at home. These narratives chart the social debris of Maria, while illustrating the ambivalent routes people take to reassemble their lives. In turn, they present kinship togetherness amidst chaos, an uprooted life in waiting, and the sudden acceleration of a long-awaited familial migration. Hence,'resilience' is revealed as something that is ethnographically fraught with contradiction; ever incomplete and bittersweet. More broadly, the paper complicates questions of 'resilience' by offering an interpersonal ethnographic perspective that compliments the large-scale focus of most disaster scholarship.

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Dominica, flexibility, anthropocene, resilience, social relations

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October 2018Published
24 September 2018Published Online
29 June 2018Accepted

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Date Deposited:

21 Dec 2018 09:21

Last Modified:

16 Dec 2020 19:51

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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