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Rationalising a volcanic crisis through literature: Montserratian verse and the descriptive reconstruction of an island

Abstract : This article discusses a selection of the literary output provoked and inspired by the eruption of Soufrière Hills Volcano on Montserrat - notably poetry and prose written by Montserratians affected by the disaster. It argues that literature can be a source of local knowledge, and a window into a culture that is seeking to deal with a tragedy. It can also be used to assess outreach efforts and to investigate the impact of volcanic events - and of volcanological information - on local populations. The texts describe the process by which Montserratians moved from bewilderment and denial to renewal and re-identification, and even pride in the volcanic activity and their own ability to live with it - and to help prepare other Caribbean islands for future volcanic events. Literature looks both backwards and forwards, communicating the acts of experiencing and changing. On Montserrat, that applies both to colonialism and the role of the UK in Montserrat's political, economic and social life, and also to the importance of learning volcanology, and welcoming volcanologists, as a means of survival.
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Submitted on : Monday, September 19, 2011 - 8:58:06 AM
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Amy Donovan, Clive Oppenheimer, Michael Bravo. Rationalising a volcanic crisis through literature: Montserratian verse and the descriptive reconstruction of an island. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, Elsevier, 2011, 203, pp.87-101. ⟨10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2011.03.010⟩. ⟨insu-00587558⟩

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