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Hannah Swee

In Far North Queensland, a region in the northeast of Australia, cyclones are an annual risk. As a result of this frequency of cyclonic activity, different forms of cyclone knowledge exist ranging from disaster management information to local conceptualizations. For the people that inhabit this region, cyclones are a lived reality that are known in different, seemingly contradictory ways. Drawing on fifteen months of ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Far North Queensland from 2012 to 2015, this article explores how local cyclone knowledge is assembled from a variety of heterogeneous factors that change and fluctuate through time, and are subject to an ongoing process of evaluation.

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Hannah Swee and Zuzana Hrdličková

Although communities around the world have been experiencing destructive events leading to loss of life and material destruction for centuries, the past hundred years have been marked by an especially heightened global interest in disasters. This development can be attributed to the rising impact of disasters on communities throughout the twentieth century and the consequent increase in awareness among the general public. Today, international and local agencies, scientists, politicians, and other actors including nongovernmental organizations across the world are working toward untangling and tackling the various chains of causality surrounding disasters. Numerous research and practitioners’ initiatives are taking place to inform and improve preparedness and response mechanisms. Recently, it has been acknowledged that more needs to be learned about the social and cultural aspects of disasters in order for these efforts to be successful (IFRC 2014).