The notion of resilience, which entered the field of geography for the first time in France in 2000, has become a cornerstone in the geography of risk over the past ten years or so. “Resilience” is a polysemic term whose definition and use are under debate today. Thus, we will give precedence to exploratory work that does not take the concept of resilience for granted but rather examines the social and historical conditions of its use by the scientific community.
One way to refine the concept of resilience today is to reflect on scales, especially temporal scales. Observing societies’ responses to ancient perturbations over the long term provides better insight into phases of both adjustment and bifurcation. Knowledge of the past also plays a role in handing down memories of past risks that, according to some researchers, would increase resilience capabilities in the present. Analysis of societies’ responses after a recent traumatic event (natural disaster, war, forced eviction), for its part, allows for much more detailed analysis of the short- and medium-term effects of the induced perturbations. The methodologies used to this aim (for example, participatory or geomatic approaches) also differ from the historical analysis of past events.
Thus, a constant dialogue between past and present case studies shall be offered, involving geographers, sociologists, historians and archeologists. By comparing sites distant in both time and space, common mechanisms that lead to system resilience or on the contrary to major qualitative system reorganizations can be identified.
Four topics shall be covered:
- historiographical approaches to resilience and the role of temporal scales;
- resilience and cities;
- post-disaster resilience;
- and residential vulnerability.