Grounding a natural disaster: Thailand and the 2004 tsunami

Jonathan Rigg, Carl Grundy-Warr, Lisa Law, May Tan-Mullins

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Drawing on field work in Southern Thailand undertaken in July 2005, the study illuminates the complex and contingent way in which the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004 affected communities, households and individuals. The paper problematises the indiscriminate/discriminate patterning of impact and recovery and also makes a case for a delocalised and transnational approach to understanding the impacts of the wave. Using the notion of 'tsunami footprints' and drawing on qualitative interviews, the paper proposes that impacts need to be seen in the context of the spatially dispersed networks of association that characterise the Thai space economy and Thai society. Drawing on work on poverty dynamics, the paper also explores three explanatory disjunctures in recovery transitions: the disjuncture between the pre-tsunami context and the post-tsunami situation; the disjuncture between structure and agency; and the disjuncture between the appearance of progressive and gradual change in societies and the lived reality of turbulence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-154
Number of pages18
JournalAsia Pacific Viewpoint
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • 'Tsunami footprints'
  • Recovery transitions
  • Resilience
  • Thailand
  • Tsunami

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development


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