Media ReleaseFrom: Elsevier
Vulnerable and resilient? Immigrants and refugees in the 2010–2011 Canterbury and Tohoku disasters
This article explores how immigrants and refugees, who are linguistic minorities, experienced the 2010–2011 disasters in Canterbury, New Zealand and Tohoku, Japan. The focus is on their perceived social vulnerabilities and resilience to disasters. Previous research has found that linguistic minority immigrants and refugees are socially vulnerable as they occupy a position of relative deprivation compared to majority groups.
However, findings drawn from in-depth interviews demonstrate the fluid, complex and contextual nature of social vulnerabilities in disasters, suggesting that people may be simultaneously vulnerable and resilient. Their resilience arises partly from the everyday inequalities that they already confront, and partly because of previous experiences of disasters. Wars, conflicts, displacement and everyday hardships have given them “earned strength”. We supplement this concept with work on social capital to help disaster researchers re-conceptualize both the social vulnerability approach and its connections to disaster resilience thinking.