The Gendered Terrain of Disaster: Through Women's Eyes

The Gendered Terrain of Disaster: Through Women's Eyes

The Gendered Terrain of Disaster: Through Women's Eyes

The Gendered Terrain of Disaster: Through Women's Eyes

Synopsis

Why are women so hard hit by disasters? This international collection offers a range of answers, and moves readers beyond the stereotypes of women as hapless victims. Drawing together the voices of women survivors and responders, leading scholars in disaster studies and experienced practitioners in the field offer new directions for disaster theory and practice.

Excerpt

Every endeavor has a history and context. This book began in August 1992 when the most costly and devastating hurricane to hit the mainland United States disrupted the lives of thousands of people living in the Miami area. Hurricane Andrew reshaped geographies, structures, institutions, and personal histories, including our own. Like all natural disasters, it brought new starts and possibilities as well as endings and lost opportunities. For the two of us, it began an exciting, but often difficult, period in which we focused our sociological interest in gender on the momentous events unfolding literally in our own neighborhoods. It marked the beginning of five years of collaborative work leading to the development of this collection.

Hurricane Andrew reoriented our thinking and scholarship just as certainly as it relocated our bookshelves and backyard trees. Elaine Enarson had recently moved into South Florida as a result of her husband's job relocation. She was in the process of once again resettling her family and restarting her career. Their new home was extensively damaged by the storm, causing the family to relocate to temporary housing for six months. During this period, Elaine Enarson volunteered as a family service worker in a number of American Red Cross service centers before connecting with the Disaster Research Team at Florida International University. Betty Hearn Morrow's home fared better and she was able to quickly pursue an interest in disaster research that had begun several years earlier with a project studying the social effects of Hurricane Hugo in the U.S. Virgin Islands (Morrow 1992). Working with colleagues, she soon began fieldwork and interviewing in the tent cities established by the military to house the thousands left homeless by the storm. Our friendship and collaboration was forged in these early days as we each sought to make sense emotionally, politically, and intellectually of the upheaval Hurricane Andrew brought into our lives and community.

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