Reframing resilience as resistance: Situating disaster recovery within colonialism

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This paper challenges resilience literature, which often strips grassroots actors of their political agency and reduces their resilient actions to no more than adapting, mitigating or recovering from an exogenous hazard. I apply an everyday resistance framework to unpack Puerto Ricans’ responses to the impacts of Hurricane Maria, which devastated the Caribbean Island in 2017. This methodological approach situates acts of resilience within the colonial relations that characterise the United States−Puerto Rico relationship. First, people’s acts of resilience are shown to signify acts of resistance to pursue self-determination and relinquish their dependency on the United States for their everyday lives and disaster recovery. Second, the paper demonstrates how resistance is enacted by women in the domestic space, which challenges masculinist and patriarchal notions of resistance. Third, exploring resilience “from below” is suggested to expose how state-centric conceptualisations of resilience do not fit neatly with how disaster-affected people define and intuitively enact resilience.




Sou, G. (2022). Reframing resilience as resistance: Situating disaster recovery within colonialism. Geographical Journal, 188(1), 14–27.

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