7: Local Communities as Strangers In-Between: The Paradigm of Aleatory Politics in Post-earthquake Central Italy (2016–17)

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This chapter deals with the political reflection of the 2016–17 Italian Apennine seismic disaster. Specifically, it focuses on disaster governance to ethnographically explore the contradictory and uncertain experiences that it may produce within a paradigm of deregulation, exception and legal undecidability. Post-disaster contexts often unveil the ordinary vulnerabilities and disparities that have historically afflicted local communities. Moreover, discourses and representations of the disaster shed light on the relations between decision-making centres and stricken areas. In our case, the earthquake and its political double have led to an ‘in-between’ condition of spectrality, which local inhabitants have elaborated as an intentional abandonment strategy by the national government. Thus, we analyse how deceptive expertise and total bureaucratization of the reconstruction process are inherently dependent both on top-down abstract representations of the space and the consequent production of idealized scenarios. Furthermore, we retrace the long-term unintended consequences produced by State-led interventions in three of the most severe Italian earthquakes of the last century, showing how the disconnected ‘aleatory’ politics of disaster governance constitutes a heterogeneous paradigm of socio-economic experimentations and failures.

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