Tom Fox and I have proposed a joint paper for this fall's Thomas R. Watson Conference in Louisville, KY. Bringing together his experiences with the Boles Fire (Weed, CA) last year, my research in rhetoric and repair/making, and our shared excitement over Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing's The Mushroom at the End of the World, we decided that presenting together on how communities repair following disaster would be just the thing.
Here's our abstract:
"Digging through the Ashes" (in the session "Scale-making and the Possibility for Repair")
What do people do after ruin? The question is urgent given environmental destruction, global conflicts, climate change, and economic disparity. A wildfire, kindled by scaled projects of industrial logging and housing, destroyed 157 homes in under 90 minutes in Weed, California. A complex of entanglements, global and local, set off the inferno: moving logging operations from east to west, locating the mill in a wind tunnel, a sustained drought, and a homeless arsonist.
And after? Off-duty firefighters joined residents to sift through burnt-out homes. They exemplify what Tsing (2015) calls a “latent commons,” where people and things come together in “fugitive moments of entanglements.” The remains--wedding rings, medals, heirlooms--and the ashes themselves brought people towards one another. Other entanglements emerged around housing, food, even clothing. Our paper follows how residents found ways to repair and survive-for-now. In attending to repair, we seek possibilities for, if not making right, then making do.
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