Staging a disaster and restaging a ‘community’ – the seismic crisis of El Hierro

Beitrag bei einer Tagung

Details zur Publikation

Autorinnen und Autoren: Orlowski B
Jahr der Veröffentlichung: 2015
Sprache: Englisch


Small islands and their communities appear to be a perfect laboratory for disaster risk studies: clear-cut, isolated, manageable and consistent. But what if a disaster reveals that the idea of an island 'community' is a metaphor rather than a coherent entity and, in addition, a 'disaster' is staged rather than real?

In 2011, El Hierro (Canary Islands) experienced a volcanic crisis. An offshore, submarine eruption caused colouring of the sea, the emission of gas and floating volcanic bombs.

The situation triggered a partly dramatized media coverage. This 'staging' has an effect on islanders' risk perceptions, since it differs from their own interpretation of events. As framing El Hierro as a hazardous place has damaged the islanders' well-being, coping strategies have aimed at altering how the seismic event has been represented. Local media are managing their reporting carefully and authorities omit statements about possible risks.

A closer look at the range of experiences reveals that the crisis people lived through was actually the interaction of rivalling 'framings' of the natural event. To counter the crisis, long-established framings are mobilized and, thus, the significance of the community is increased:

Being Herreño means being connected to nature, neglected by those in power and, consequently, a member of a resilient and strong community. As this identity is very compatible with current circumstances, where the fight against adversity is highlighted, statements from individuals in regard to volcanic risk often return to it. This 'restaging' of the community both has important implications for adaptation and preparedness.

FAU-Autorinnen und Autoren / FAU-Herausgeberinnen und Herausgeber

Orlowski, Benedikt Marko
Professur für Geographie


Orlowski, B. (2015). Staging a disaster and restaging a ‘community’ – the seismic crisis of El Hierro. Chicago, Illinois, US.

Orlowski, Benedikt. "Staging a disaster and restaging a ‘community’ – the seismic crisis of El Hierro." Proceedings of the AAG Anual Meeting 2015, Chicago, Illinois 2015.


Zuletzt aktualisiert 2018-11-08 um 00:08