Mapping cultural vulnerability in volcanic regions : the practical application of social volcanology at Mt Merapi, Indonesia
Date of Issue2012
Protecting at-risk communities from geological hazards requires both knowledge of the physical hazard and an understanding of the community at risk. Interdisciplinary disaster research therefore explores the interface between hazards and society in order to improve disaster risk reduction strategies. At this interface there exist disaster sub-cultures that are produced through hazard experience and can be developed as a coping mechanism for the at-risk communities. Therefore, disaster sub-cultures could contribute to either social resilience or vulnerability. The fluid nature of the term culture and the difficulty in quantifying these important human traits mean that the local sub-cultures are complex and often not included within conventional risk management tools such as risk maps. However, this paper demonstrates how a disaster sub-culture found at Mt Merapi volcano, Indonesia, can be examined using interdisciplinary methods. The distinctive Mt Merapi sub-culture influences local community actions during the frequent eruptions. The findings from ethnographic studies completed on Mt Merapi in 2007 and 2009 have been translated and mapped in order to be incorporated within a holistic risk assessment. The key findings, methods of translation and maps are presented here, and demonstrate the potential for interdisciplinary research applications in disaster risk reduction.