Shark Tank Seminar 2 - Building Back Better? Observations on the Christchurch Rebuild

Presenter: Researcher: Steve Matthewman, Hugh Byrd, Christine Kenney - Interrogator Shark: Rosemary du Plessis
  • Date: Wednesday, 23 May 2018 to Wednesday, 23 May 2018
  • Time: 01:00PM to 02:30PM
  • Location: Room 411 Psychology / Sociology Building, Ilam Campus, University of Canterbury
  • Ticket: Free

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology warmly invite you to Shark Tank 2, the second in a seminar series which aims to facilitate deeper engagement with new research than traditional presentations. Those participating in the feeding frenzy will have read the full paper before the event. The researcher will face an Interrogator Shark whose role will be to prise open the paper. The researcher will have a chance to speak in defence before the circling sharks have an opportunity to feast on their prey. Our second ‘seal’ will be the University of Auckland’s Steve Matthewman who has bravely agreed to enter the tank. Copies of Steve’s paper will be available from Lyndon Fraser

Building Back Better (BBB) is enshrined in the guiding principles of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 (UNISDR, 2015). Indeed, the idea has achieved the status of orthodoxy within post-disaster reconstruction. The stated desires to mitigate disaster risk and improve community wellbeing are both understandable and laudable. Yet all too often we seem to fall short of such aims. This presentation will use the rebuilding of post-quakes Christchurch as a case study to examine the challenges faced when attempting to improve the lives of locals and their urban environment. Putting a city back together is always going to be a protracted, difficult and contentious process. We highlight competing visions of what “better” might look like, and offer reasons for the perceived slowness of the recovery. Despite widespread belief that disasters offer the perfect “opportunity” to do things differently, actors still find themselves constrained in all sorts of ways. For while buildings crumble, institutions and vested interests endure.

Researcher bio: 
Steve Matthewman is currently president of the Sociological Association of Aotearoa New Zealand and was formerly head of Sociology at the University of Auckland. His last book was Disasters, Risks and Revelation: Making Sense of Our Times (2015). He is a contributing author to the new edition of Exploring Society (2019), led by Ruth MacManus. His current research project is the Marsden-funded work ‘Power Politics: Electricity and Sustainability in Post-Disaster Ōtautahi (Christchurch)’ with Hugh Byrd (Unitec) and Christine Kenney (Massey University). The broad focus of this research is on how we build sustainability into the city. The narrow focus is on the place of renewable energy in this process.

Interrogator Shark:
Rosemary du Plessis has long term interests in gender, family, work and embodiment. She has edited two collections of feminist writing and contributed to a variety of studies relating to women's paid and unpaid work. Between 2003 and 2005 she led the Constructive Conversations/ Korero Whakaaetanga research programme which focused on genetic testing and biobanking. This multi-disciplinary, multi-sited research programme was funded by the New Zealand Foundation for Research, Science and Technology to explore the social, cultural, ethical and spiritual implications of new health biotechnologies. Her involvement in research relating to public participation in debates about new technologies is a component of a long term interest in citizenship, inclusion and the development of public policy. She was a member of the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO 2004-9 and has a strong interest in national and international developments with respect to the ethics of knowledge production and use. During 2009 and 2010 she worked part-time for the Ministry for Culture and Heritage as Theme Editor for 'Social Connections' - a set of entries Te Ara: the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. These entries include information about families, community organisations, religion, health and crime as well as inequalities associated with ethnicity, gender and class.

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