(Dis)Memory of Disaster Project


(Dis)Memory of Disaster?

Culture and natural hazards. Madeira island, a case study

Authorship and general coordination: Ana Salgueiro

Host institutions: UCP – CECC and UMa-CIERL

“When thinking about memory, we must start with forgetting [in order to remembre some things, other things must be forgoten”
(Aleida Assmann, 2010: 97)
“A disaster is not a physical happening […], it is a social occasion”
 (Enrico Quarantelli, 2005: 343)

The collective, multi and trans-disciplinary research project, “(Dis)Memory of Disaster? Culture and natural hazards. Madeira island, a case study” (DMDM), aimed at exploring the (re)construction of Madeira’s cultural memory and how that memory has been represented in the past and the present, either by recreating or rejecting the existence of natural hazards in the island.

DMDM was carried out within the scope of the line of investigation “Culture & Conflict” of the Research Center for Communication and Culture (CECC) of the Catholic University of Portugal. In Madeira, DMDM had also the institutional support of the Reseach Center for Local and Regional Studies (CIERL) of the University of Madeira.

DMDM set out to articulate scientific investigation, artistic creation/dissemination and civic engagement. The project was developed between September 2012 and December 2014 and along three complementary lines:

  • DMDM1_ scientific investigation: coordinated by Ana Salgueiro, this line was constituted by a group of researchers from many different areas (Anthropology, Archaeology, Health and Biological Sciences, Cultural Studies, Disaster Studies, Arts and Literary Studies, Tourism Studies, Geography, History, Psychology), and associated to several national and international academic institutions. Investigation was grounded on a diverse array of material: official/institutional documents, old reports and chronicles, periodicals, literary texts, various forms of artistic discourse, oral narratives, etc.
  • DMDM2_ The arts as place of memory of disaster in Madeira: coordinated by José Maria Montero and Ana Salgueiro, this line aimed at: (1) encouraging the development of creative projects (literary, performative and/or visual) by artists (local, national or foreign) so as to artistically reflect on/conceptualize the (dis)memory of natural disasters in Madeira; (2) creating an artistic archive of the memory of natural disasters in Madeira, which may eventually be studied by DMDM1 researchers and others; (3) promoting social intervention and fostering the development of a culture of disaster and resilience so as to critically reflect on Madeira’s cultural memory, the relationship between community and natural environment, and risk assessment; and (4) dynamizing Madeira’s cultural and artistic systems.
  • DMDM3_ School Intervention and Citizenship Building: this line, coordinated by  Ana Salgueiro, challenged schools in Madeira (especially those located in disaster-prone areas) to reflect on the memory of local natural disasters. Above all, it focused on developing action research projects, coordinated both by teachers and researchers/artists.

+ info: http://dmdm.uma.pt/