Collective Trauma and Shifting Identities: Implications for Transition, Adaptation and Recovery (14734)
The social ‘fabric’ that knits individuals into a community incorporates a range of threads, such as shared identities, formal and informal networks, relationships, social capital, and shared places, meanings, values and norms. This fabric is vital in adaptation, recovery, and planned transition processes, as it is critical in engaging and mobilising communities in collective action at the local scale. Further, communities with a strong social fabric are often thought to be more resilient, with greater adaptive capacity and greater scope for exercising agency.
However, case studies of communities experiencing disasters and other forms of significant change have demonstrated that this social ‘fabric’ can be damaged; this damage is known as, ‘collective trauma’. Collective trauma it is a form of harm distinct from the sum of trauma experienced at the individual scale, rather, it is damage done at the scale of collectivity, to the bonds, relationships, and shared identities that create ‘community’, and it has the potential to seriously undermine transition, adaptation, and post-disaster recovery processes. Drawing from a case study of a heretofore ‘strong’ community undergoing transition, this paper will explore the nature, construction and experience of collective trauma, and how identities and relationships may be changed and renegotiated in an effort to cope, and to heal.