Returning home?: Emotional geographies of the disaster displaced in Brisbane and Christchurch

  • Morrice, Stephanie (CoI)

Project: Research

Project Details


To date, there remains a notable absence in Geographic literature concerning the connection between disasters and the concept of “home”. Similarly, return migration has largely been overlooked in geographical enquiries, reflecting the assumption that migrants are returning “home” in a journey that involves little adjustment. My doctoral research attempts to fill this void, using two post-disaster settings, to explore how emotion motivates return migration decisions.

Moving beyond a consideration of the policies and socio-economic limitations that undoubtedly play a part in whether the displaced are able to return, my project contributes to writing on return migration, and the geographies of ‘home’ and emotion, in three main ways: Firstly, by producing in-depth empirical material on the everyday nature of emotions within the displacement cycle. Secondly, by exploring the emotional character of different natural hazards. And thirdly, by engaging in methodological debates concerning how to research emotion.

My project is based in Brisbane, Australia and Christchurch, New Zealand. By engaging with those who were displaced by the flooding and earthquake events, I intend to highlight the personal and affective element of the displacement story. With much contemporary research debating the concept of ‘return’ and, more specifically, what it means to return somewhere that is expected to be familiar and safe, I utilize a post-disaster setting to continue to assess the difference between expectations and the reality of return. This project also aims to add to understandings of home and household more broadly, considering the materiality of 'home', how nostalgia and memory play a part in migrant return decisions, and the way in which 'home' can be imagined, altered and constructed in this context.
Effective start/end date20/09/1020/09/13