Shinya Uekusa, Steve Matthewman, and Bruce Glavovic have edited a collection titled "Critical disaster studies: Social science reflections on a decade of disaster experiences in Christchurch, New Zealand" (Taylor & Francis). My chapter argues that Indigenous vulnerabilities are the flip-side of non-Indigenous resilience. But pan-Indigenous descriptions of Indigenous disaster experiences gloss over the fundamental identities of Indigenous Peoples, ignoring the diversity of communities and masking wider Indigenous societal dynamics that theoretically underpin the much lauded resilience we have fetishized.
Colonization is a disaster with a fixed beginning and an indeterminate end. Imperial, colonial, and neoliberal forces embedded structures whose very purpose was to dispossess, disarm, and, if necessary, destroy Indigenous Peoples. This history has built societies in which the risks from disasters fall disproportionately on the disempowered.
Positioning resilience as an admirable callus on our collective lives— built up over generations of oppression—reifies the status quo of vulnerability and diverts attention from a key sociological component of resilience to disaster, namely sovereignty.