Society for the Anthropology of Europe
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
Karin Doolan (University of Zadar)
Drago Župarić-Ilijić (University of Zagreb)
Beyond the formidable political-economic challenges of global warming, climate change entails unanticipated sensory relationships to a world in which disaster has become increasingly commonplace. In this essay, we explore the modalities of post-disaster affect that emerged in the wake of a destructive flood in eastern Croatia in 2014. While mass media reportage of disasters and their aftermaths privileges the visual register, our analysis seizes on other senses. Based on interviews with those who experienced the flood, our exposition renders the sickly stink of the rotting corpses of livestock, the acrid taste of vomit on the tongue, the rubbery texture of latex gloves worn while sifting through waterlogged personal effects, and the repetitive, pounding echo of walls of water against walls of concrete and wood. Beyond this descriptive endeavor, we pursue the relationship between the sensorium of disaster and affective memories and narratives, especially in light of the passage of time between the flood and the occasion of our interviews in 2017. As we argue, “post-disaster affect” is not merely a record of sensory experience, but a “distribution of the sensible” in Rancière’s (2004) sense, one that necessarily has political entailments. Accordingly, in dialogue with other recent ethnographies of post-disaster contexts in the era of climate change (Adams 2013), we attend to the ways in which post-disaster affect does, and does not, link up with political projects of solidarity, placemaking, resilience, and struggles for a hopeful future beyond a precarious sense of the present due to flooded senses in the past.