Publication Details

Eriksen, C. (2019). Coping, caring and believing: The embodied work of disaster recovery workers. Emotion, Space and Society, 32 100592-1-100592-9.


This paper examines the embodied experiences of coping, caring and believing by disaster recovery workers in Australia in the context of the growing frequency and intensity of disasters, especially bushfires. The study draws on three concepts: faith as performative, embodiment, and the 'holding environment' as a system that shapes coping capacity. Faith emerges in the study as having two modalities (introspection and group-communion) that are not synonymous with religious adherence. Instead it is linked to the holding environment, which comprises the strategies that individuals and groups have developed to cope with risks and exposure, through their embodied responses, and the observed responses of others, to the impact of potential and actual harm. The holding environment provides mental, spiritual and physical spaces and practices where disaster recovery workers can safely confide, reflect, debate, grow and heal. These processes, in turn, provide anchor points and sense of purpose. They also accentuate the individual and collective choices we face in terms of mitigating and adapting to growing social and environmental uncertainty with climate change.

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