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Embodied Vibrations

Disastrous Mobilities in Relocation from the Christchurch Earthquakes, Aotearoa New Zealand

Gail Adams-Hutcheson

Keywords: Christchurch; earthquakes; geography; geopower; material affects; mobilities; trauma

This article contributes to debates that consider things (buildings) that have previously been assumed to be bounded and fixed. When thinking about how literally anything can become mobile, this article addresses how buildings “live on” through the bodies of participants. The notion of material affects is advanced to draw together a complex set of ideas on vibrant materialities. Material affects, then, entangle the earth, forces, embodiment, and micro mobilities to expose the vibrant matter of buildings. Empirical material is drawn from semistructured interviews with people who relocated out of Christchurch following the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes and aftershocks. In relocation, acute spatial awareness and sensitivity to movement and vibration—that is, the minute shudders and flexes of buildings—colonized the bodies of participants. Material affects are able to challenge the distinction between vital energy (life) forces and materiality.

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