Post-Disaster Recovery Trajectories in Nagapattinam and Kuttanad Regions of India: How Representations of Communities Shape their Recovery Outcomes

Jasmitha Arvind, Nihal Ranjit, Mythili Madhavan  | 2022


This chapter examines how representation of DAPs by themselves and different actors affect the strategies DAPs use for recovering from a disaster. We situate our study in the Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The study draws on 30 in-depth interviews and 14 semi-structured group discussions with members of the fishing community in Nagapattinam (impacted by tsunamis, cyclones, and floods) and landless agricultural labourers in Kuttanad (impacted by floods). We find that in Nagapattinam, the fisher community used collective presence to exercise more agency (as compared to other marginalised groups like farm labourers) to make demands for post-disaster benefits and compensation. This enabled them to contribute to and influence the narrative around post-disaster impacts and needs, achieving positive outcomes. Contrastingly, in Kuttanad, though the widespread loss of paddy cultivation shaped the dominant narrative of the floods, landless agricultural labourers who faced significant losses post the floods did not find a space in the larger narrative. Therefore, the paper finds that the patterns of representation structure how different actors involved in disaster recovery imagine and respond to the long-term impacts of disasters.