Spaces of post-disaster experimentation: Agile entrepreneurship and geological agency in emerging disaster countercartographies


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    This article explores emergent spaces of social and political experimentation after the Canterbury, New Zealand, earthquakes of 2010–2011. Acknowledging that disasters generate distinctive spaces which reveal and provoke potentially disruptive imaginations and actions, I explore how the earthquakes gave rise to political experiments through which uncertainties were sensed, ordered and negotiated in the hopeful enactment of both conservative and radically alternative futures. Namely, I argue that the ruptures afforded by the earthquakes opened up the possibility for the dominant practices of a complex political conservatism in Christchurch to be challenged through the emergence of new and previously restrained claims to the city that have manifested, in part, through an emergent community organisation – the Canterbury Communities' Earthquake Recovery Network (CanCERN). Despite the earthquakes fuelling these repressed claims, this article explores the ways that these visions, claims and disquiets were shaped by evolving understandings of the nature and potential of the earthquake event. Analysis of CanCERN's activity reveals a kind of agile social entrepreneurship that remained alert to the opening and closing spaces of possibility within the disaster recovery landscape. Subsequently, this account works to not only draw attention to the discordant temporalities of possibility post-disaster, but also opens up discussion about the ways in which post-disaster experiments are shaped by unfolding senses of geological agency and indeterminacy.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number4
    Pages (from-to)621-640
    Number of pages20
    JournalEnvironment and Planning E: Nature and Space
    Issue number4
    Early online date13 Nov 2018
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


    • experimentation
    • fidelity
    • geological agency
    • social entrepreneurship
    • disaster recovery


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