18 Pages

Disaster capitalism

In a recent article Rebecca Zarger (in prep.) notes that, in the wake of Hurricane Iris, which devastated many farms and homes in southern Belize in 2001, local resistance to construction of a hydroelectric dam was weakened to the extent that the dam got built, going into service amid resurging protests. Resistance — and regret — rose back to pre-Iris levels, but it was too late. Her study provides ‘insight into how apertures created by disasters accelerate shifts in access to critical resources and claims on space and place’. In the case of the hurricane, Zarger believes that people experienced uncertainty, since their livelihoods were disrupted, and displacement, since many people migrated to fi nd work to mitigate the effects of the hurricane damage on their family economies. This displacement was exacerbated by development agencies that came on the scene to help by providing alternative sources of support for damaged farms, support that may inadvertently put those farms out of business.