Watermarks: Urban Flooding and Memoryscape in Argentina


The relationship between social experience and action in the context of recurrent disasters is often thought of in terms of adaptation. This study problematises this assumption from an anthropological perspective by analysing the memoryscape that mediates past experiences of disasters. The inquiry is based on translocal and transtemporal ethnographic fieldwork conducted in 2004-2011 in the flood-prone city of Santa Fe in Argentina. The study examines how past flooding is remembered by flood victims in the middle- and low-income districts and by activists of the protest movement that emerged in the wake of the 2003 flood. It deals with flood memory in the local bureaucracy, in local historiography, myths and popular culture.


Susann Ullberg cover

The analysis reveals that the Santafesinian flood memoryscape is dynamically configured by evocative, reminiscent and commemorative modes of remembering, which are expressed in multiple forms, ranging from memorials and rituals to bureaucratic documents, infrastructure and everyday practices. The study addresses the relationship between memory, morality and social inequality and discusses the implications for questions regarding vulnerability, resilience and adaptation.


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