Introduction – An Overview of the Book: Beyond Conventional Approaches to Disaster Recovery

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Disaster recovery is always a challenging time for affected places. Places, people, environments and economies try to function and perform again, moving forward across rubble, dust, pain and death. Disaster recovery is therefore the process by which a system that has experienced a structural failure re-establishes a routine, organized, institutionalized mode of adaptation to its post-impact environment (Bates and Peacock, 1989). This emphasizes the reorganization of social life and the creation of a new, stable relationship between social and environmental features (Bates and Peacock, 1989). Therefore, disaster recovery is a complex process where different actors play a game, interact, conflict and discuss what, how, why to rebuild and recover. At a glance, disaster recovery is always a challenging time for affected places. Several common misconceptions, however, exist around the efforts for recovering places. One is that it is often stated that recovery efforts should be oriented towards bringing back the affected places and their social, political, institutional and organizational features at their ‘normal’ state, to regain an undefined normalcy (Rivera, 2020). But, we can argue, if that state of normalcy prior to the disaster was unable to avoid the occurrence of a disaster, this state of normalcy needs to be changed. Also, who and what define ‘normalcy’? Neoliberal societies such as the contemporary, globalized and hyperconnected ones consist of a complex set of actions, procedures, and flows interacting across scales, spaces and places. These can be highly dynamic and quickly change also into so-called remote places. Normalcy, therefore, hardly exists. Places changes, so do humans, so do environments.

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