This is part of the session, “Philippine Futures: Ambivalence in the Claws of Dispossession“, organised by Noah Theriault (History, Carnegie Mellon University).
This paper explains how the slum—as both a geographic space and population—was discursively produced as the cause and the epicenter of flood disasters, and therefore the object of intervention of Metro Manila disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) policy. Using the case of Pasig City, it traces and elaborates how a standardized explanation of floods and disasters emerged in the wake of the 2009 Ondoy floods; how blame and responsibility were attributed to specific processes, geographies, and populations; and how these narratives became the basis for a disaster risk management policy premised on slum evictions. It situates this phenomenon in the emergence of a new political moment of permanent climate emergency, which ushered in a re-problematization of the slum (Ghertner, 2015), whereby the problem of the slum as a “problem of ecology” (Rademacher, 2009) came to be viewed as a problem of disaster risk. The affirmation of extant slum transgressions, alongside the redescription of the slum as obstruction to waterways, flood control infrastructure, and DRRM and resilience explain the anti-slum politics of ‘building-back better’ and resilient city-making in the post-Ondoy moment.
Ghertner, D. Asher. 2015. Rule by Aesthetics: World-Class City Making in Delhi. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Rademacher, Anne. 2009. “When Is Housing an Environmental Problem? Reforming Informality in Kathmandu.” Current Anthropology 50(4):513–33.