Disaster risk governance as assemblage: the Chilean framework of the 1985 San Antonio earthquake

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The purpose of this article is to analyze disaster risk governance through assemblage theory, identifying how—during the altered political context of a military regime with a centralized disaster risk management as in the case of Chile in 1985—new actors emerge during the disaster response phase as a de/reterritorialization effect that is influenced by their agencies and relationships, disfiguring the edges of the assemblage. Based on this conceptualization, it is possible to investigate the interactions between the different actors, their power relations, and their reconfigurations in the governance exercise. For this purpose, we reviewed the response phase of the 1985 San Antonio earthquake that affected the central zone of Chile, where strategic functions, institutions, and forms of power are concentrated. To describe and visualize the actors during the response phase in the disaster risk governance framework, a map of actors was developed that identifies the existing relationships and their different weights. The central scale proved to be dominant and occupied a political space that was transfigured by its overrepresentation—enforced by allies such as the banking system and business associations—enhancing a neoliberal agenda. The leaps in scale from the central scale to the local scale cancel agency of the last, destabilizing its capacity to deal with the effects of the earthquake and isolating it from the decision-making processes. Consequently, delays in providing aid demonstrate that authoritarian governments do not provide better management in the disaster response phase.
Assemblage, Chile, Disaster response phase, Disaster risk governance, San Antonio earthquake