Rethinking Resilience: Reflections on the Earthquakes in Christchurch, New Zealand, 2010 and 2011

Ecology and Society. 2013;18(4):37 DOI 10.5751/ES-05947-180437


Journal Homepage

Journal Title: Ecology and Society

ISSN: 1708-3087 (Online)

Publisher: Resilience Alliance

LCC Subject Category: Science: Biology (General): Ecology

Country of publisher: Canada

Language of fulltext: English

Full-text formats available: PDF, HTML



Bronwyn Mary. Hayward (School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Canterbury, New Zealand)


Double blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 48 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

Resilience has emerged as a policy response in an era of public concern about disasters and risks that include fear of terrorism and environmental or economic catastrophe. Resilience is both a refreshing and a problematic concept. It is refreshing in that it creates new opportunities for interdisciplinary research and vividly reminds us that the material world matters in our social lives, political economy, and urban planning. However, the concept of resilience is also problematic. Widespread, uncritical calls for greater resilience in response to environmental, economic, and social challenges often obscure significant questions of political power. In particular, we may ask, resilience of what, and for whom? My reflection here was written in the context of the ongoing grief, disruption, and community protest in my home city of Christchurch, New Zealand, a city that experienced 59 earthquakes of magnitude 5 or more, and over 3800 aftershocks of magnitude 3 or greater between September 2010 and September 2012. From this perspective, I call for expanding our political imagination about resilience, to include ideas of compassion and political resistance. In my observation, both compassion, expressed as shared vulnerability, and resistance, experienced as community mobilization against perceived injustice, have been vital elements of grassroots community recovery.