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An anatomy of the Chennai Floods

Pushpa Arabindoo in Chennai

An anatomy of the Chennai Floods

Dr Pushpa Arabindoo spent the summer at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) - Madras.

She used the time finishing some writing, discussing possibilities for collaborative research, and presenting her forthcoming paper, ‘Unprecedented natures? An anatomy of the Chennai floods’ at the Institut Français de Pondichéry (IFP) / French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP).

In late 2015, Chennai experienced torrential rains, with unanticipated flooding when, instead of its proverbial ‘poor monsoon’, record-breaking rainfall submerged the city within days, with disastrous consequences. While environmental activists took the state and its allied actors to task over what they saw as a deliberate and reckless ‘urbanisation of disaster’, the state viewed the floods as an unprecedented (global) weather anomaly, recognising the need for a more robust (post) disaster discussion,

Pushpa’s paper offered an anatomy of the floods, urging a rethink of 21st century urban disasters, unravelling the complex spatial and environmental histories behind them, and dismantling three commonly invoked issues: 1) The “100-year flood” fallacy; 2) debates about environmental knowledges and subjectivities; and 3) rescaling the rationale of the ‘urbanisation of disaster’.

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Pushpa in Pondicherry

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Pushpa Arabindoo