The earthquakes that struck Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2010–11 ruptured both the material and sociocultural architectures of the city. Subsequent examinations of the landscape have explored the alternative imaginations and narrations of urban space that have taken hold during recovery. Focusing on the prolific presence of transitional organisations in the city-centre, some of these have argued that the alternative subjectivities and places that arose post-quake represent responses that challenge and contest state expectations of what constitutes ‘recovery’. This paper develops these ideas further, arguing that such practices and imaginaries can also be observed in other spaces of the ruptured city. Specifically it explores the relocation decisions made by citizens who were subjected to a globally unprecedented state-buyback scheme. Through a typological analysis I argue that, rather than representing submission to state recovery ideologies, the decisions made by movers invoked new kinds of identity, meaning and value amongst participants. In doing so this paper explores the multiple spaces through which ethical fidelity to the perceived transformational nature and potential of the disaster has been performed. Such analysis problematises narratives of what constitutes ‘recovery’ and raises questions about how the transformational potential of disasters pervade landscapes through multiple spaces and scales.
- disaster recovery