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Part 4

Places of fear and attachment. How Azoreans perceive seismic and volcanic risk.

Places of fear and attachment. How Azoreans perceive seismic and volcanic risk.

Isabel Estrela Rego, Ana Moura Arroz
Education Department, University of the Azores, Ponta Delgada, Portugal.
imcer@uac.pt

Abstract
Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions have been regular phenomena in the Azores. In spite of the knowledge already gathered by local historians and earth sciences researchers, there are no scientific data on the socio- cultural dimensions of volcanic and seismic risks. A research project on risk perception of natural hazards (TOPOI METUS) is now being carried out in order to study the social cosmographies of seismic and volcanic hazard. Based on data produced along fourteen in-depth extensive interviews conducted in five of the nine islands of the archipelago, this presentation focuses on preliminary findings of perceptions regarding seismic and volcanic risk profiles, patrimonial and economic vulnerability to those risks, and risk management (i.e. information and actions taken before a crisis, and during the response and recovery phases of a disaster situation). Exploratory results show that people living in the most vulnerable areas insist in staying there, even when they are aware of the dangerousness involved in it. To uncover the apparently irrational reasons beneath these options will allow understanding some of the barriers encountered by risk managers engaged in the minimization of destructive impacts of those natural hazards. Knowing that people both ‘put themselves in the Hands of God’ and highly identify with the patrimonial history of their living place may help to develop knowledge to more fully inform civil protection/defence policies. Results may also allow reconceptualising the variable “identification with the local” in the scope of risk perception.
 

Key words: Seismic risk perception; volcanic risk perception; place attachment; the Azores islands.


Author

Isabel Estrela Rego, Ana Moura Arroz

Isabel Estrela Rego, Ana Moura Arroz
Education Department, University of the Azores, Ponta Delgada, Portugal.
imcer@uac.pt


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Keywords: Seismic risk perception; volcanic risk perception; place attachment; the Azores islands, gjcpp, 2nd ICCP