Temporality of Disasters: The Politics of Women's Livelihoods 'After' the 2004 Tsunami in Sri Lanka


Ruwanpura, Kachana N. 2008. "Temporality of Disasters: The Politics of Women's Livelihoods 'After' the 2004 Tsunami in Sri Lanka." Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 29 (3): 325 - 340. 

Author: Kachana N. Ruwanpura


The devastation caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami in Sri Lanka is represented as a ‘natural disaster’. Yet, the tsunami did not occur in a sociopolitical and historical vacuum. How people responded to the tsunami, the challenges of and attitudes to relocation and post-tsunami livelihoods, were/are shaped by uneven development, social exclusion and ethnonationalist war. All these responses are embedded in structures of gender, caste, class, and ethnicity. The tsunami, thus, brought to the forefront preexisting inequalities, showing up complexities in the temporality of disasters. Drawn from fieldwork in two coastal areas in the Southern and Eastern provinces, this paper shows how gendered structures within the local political economy influenced the ways that institutional actors as well as the displaced communities and women initially devised livelihood strategies. These reactions show how place matters as much as preexisting gendered political economy conditions and reveal the complex ways in which women continue to mediate and negotiate everyday responses in the aftermath of a ‘natural’ disaster.

Keywords: ethnic-dynamics, conflict, livelihoods, tsunami

Topics: Development, Environment, Environmental Disasters, Ethnicity, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Livelihoods Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Sri Lanka

Year: 2008

© 2024 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at info@genderandsecurity.org.