Cyclone Sidr and its aftermath : everyday life, power and marginality
Nadiruzzaman, M. D.
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This PhD research is about power struggle and marginality in peoples’ everyday life in the aftermath of the cyclone Sidr. This research explores how everyday vulnerabilities of a coastal community, which is ignored in the powerful knowledge framing, limit peoples’ ability to withstand a cyclone. It reiterates the idea that the conditionality, which makes an individual, a group or a community susceptible to a natural event, is a legacy of our engagement with the environment and, thus, scrutinise our knowledge on that particular event. From a theoretical interest in environment-society studies, my work strives to understand affected communities’ quotidian experiences of their livelihoods, after being affected by Cyclone Sidr, through rebuilding, relief support, access to natural resources in land, water and forest, alternative income opportunities, patron-client networks, and local power dynamics. The whole research is based on an ethnographic account in three proximate villages, Gabtola, Mazer Char and Sonatola Model Village, adjacent to the Sundarbans. This research examines the following research questions – i) How are communities’ everyday livelihoods, mediated through their broader societal, political and economic networks, informing their ability to cope with a cyclone event, and thus connected with cyclone knowledge?; ii) How are the complex interface of environmental change, livelihood options and power dynamics reciprocally linked with cyclone rhetoric?; and iii) Whose views are reflected in the development of cyclone knowledge and practice in Bangladesh? Being a native Bengali speaker, knowing local dialects, having previous work experience of academic research on disadvantaged and rural communities, power dynamics and development, I was in an advantageous position to carry out this highly sensitive work. This research contributes to the idea of vulnerability and resilience by portraying the importance of considering local power dynamics in shaping environment-society relationship. In addition, this research also enlightens on local development and economic aspects through unpacking issues in regard to relief and rehabilitation, fishing and forest use. These theoretical contributions, reciprocally, back up methodological underpinnings of it. More importantly, this research explores the interface of cyclone, power and livelihoods and echoes voices of marginal people with a view to them having their space in policies.