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SEMINAR: Typhoon: Climate, history and society in The Philippines - Professor James Warren, Murdoch University

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Typhoon: Climate, history and society in The Philippines - Professor James Warren, Murdoch University : Asian Studies Seminar Series Other events...
Typhoons have been largely ignored in Philippine historiography until quite recently. Cyclonic storms have helped shape the character —physically, economically, socially and culturally— of particular areas in the Philippines, especially the northern and southern extremities of Luzon, the Visayas, and large stretches of the eastern seaboard of the Philippine island world. But typhoons have not affected all people and all areas of the archipelago in the same manner. Piers Blaike and his colleagues argue, in At Risk: Natural Hazards, People’s Vulnerability and Disasters, that patterns of morbidity and mortality and property damage from such storms, and the capacity of people to recover and reconstruct their livelihoods, reveal differences based upon their history, regional wealth and socio-political organisation.

While individual calamities have found a place in some studies of cities, colonies and nations in Southeast Asia, few scholars have considered cyclonic storms important agents of change, or explored in detail the cultural-ecological impacts and perception and meaning of the typhoon in daily life. For the past five centuries, nature’s powerful tropical child—the typhoon—has continued to embark annually upon its unpredictable, unreliable and unstoppable Pacific journey, heading in the direction of the Philippines.

What recent extreme 21st century typhoons have reaffirmed is the capacity of one of nature’s most fearsome phenomena to lay bare the social inequalities of contemporary Philippine society, particularly the extent to which elite prosperity has been founded on peasant deprivation and, more recently, capitalist institutions. Despite the centuries separating them, the typhoons mentioned in this paper share remarkable continuities. They have repeatedly destroyed the livelihoods and homes of families and communities and inflicted disproportionate harm on the poor and those invariably lacking a bundle of entitlements. While long-term recovery from typhoon disasters has generally been slow, necessarily affected by the vitality of the economy-nationally and locally-and whether there has been a sustained humanitarian response to the crises, the social strains on rural Filipino communities and their capacity to recover has proved far more difficult in recent times, because of the recurrent scale and intensity of the cyclonic storms, and continued local and foreign control over resources.

This paper explores aspects of the impacts of the typhoon on Philippine society and history over the course of five centuries, with particular reference to population increase, agricultural, economic and political developments, and the influence of natural and social environments on the future of the nation.
Speaker(s) Professor James Warren, Professor of History and Southeast Asian Studies at Murdoch University
Location Social Sciences Building Seminar Room G.25
Contact Natsuko Akagawa <[email protected]> : 6488 3963
Start Fri, 09 May 2014 13:30
End Fri, 09 May 2014 15:00
Submitted by Emily Buckland <[email protected]>
Last Updated Thu, 08 May 2014 17:37
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