The Heritage of Natural Catastrophic Events

Community Resilience and Sense of Place


Online (Zoom) 27th November 11am – 4pm.

For more information please email fabrizio.galeazzi[at]aru[dot]ac[dot]uk.

StoryLab (ARU) and The School of Philosophy and Art History at the University of Essex invited people to a one-day long workshop focused on the importance of cultural activity in relation to resilient communities in the context of natural catastrophic events.

The workshop took place during the week of the 40th anniversary of the Irpinia earthquake, South Italy, and provided a premier opportunity to engage with disaster resilience thinking and practice across multiple specializations (i.e. heritage studies, film, media, architecture, conservation), as well as interacted with the community affected by the 1980 earthquake.

The research team presented the documentary Italia Terremotata, and explored the use of immersive visualisation and multimodal storytelling as powerful means to foster identity and community resilience, as well as preserving the heritage of natural catastrophic events. Italia Terremotata produced a VR immersive documentary that integrates 3D visualisation and multimodal storytelling to recount the story of the resilient community of Senerchia in south Italy, one of at least 40 towns almost completely destroyed by one of the most devastating earthquakes in Italian history; the 1980 Irpinia earthquake which left 2483 people dead, 7700 injured, and 250,000 homeless, and had and still has a long-term impact on rural communities in Irpinia (South Italy). After the earthquake, most of the inhabitants of Senerchia lived in prefabricated houses for more than 20 years before they were able to occupy the new town, built next to the ruins of the abandoned old town. The community of Senerchia, and other affected towns, are still recovering from this life-changing event and are telling this story through the documentary.

The workshop was held in the form of a Zoom online Webinar divided in two session:

1. an introductory session in the morning, where experts presented research on risk awareness, community engagement and resilience in the context of natural catastrophic events;

2. a second session in which the team who has contributed to the development of the VR documentary Italia Terremotata introduced the case study, presented the ethnographic research informing the documentary, and discussed the impact of creative practices on heritage research.


Programme 27 November 2020

11.00 | INTRODUCTION by Dr Paola Di Giuseppantonio Di Franco and Dr Fabrizio Galeazzi

11.15 – 13.15 | SESSION I: The heritage of natural catastrophic events: risk, community resilience and preparedness.

11.15 | Catherine Forbes, GML Heritage: The Community’s Heritage: Sustaining Community, Culture and Heritage through Disaster.

11.35 | Prof. Rohit Jigyasu, International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM): Key Considerations for Sustainable & Resilient Recovery of Cultural Heritage.

11.55 | Prof. Elizabeth Brabec, Center for Heritage & Society, University of Massachusetts Amherst: Migration, Displacement and the Resilience of Communities after Disaster.

12.15 | Dr Rachel Grant, School of Applied Sciences, London South Bank UniversityAnimals and Earthquakes – how observations of animal behaviour can help communities in seismic risk zones.

12.35 | Dr Dacia Viejo-Rose, Cambridge Heritage Research Centre, University of Cambridge: Discussant.

12.50 | Q&A

13.15 – 14.00 | Lunch break

14.00 – 16.00 | SESSION II: Italia Terremotata. Chair and moderation (Dr Shreepali Patel, StoryLab, ARU)

14.00 | Dr Paola Di Giuseppantonio Di Franco, University of Essex/Eastern ARC: Community resilience and sense of place in the Italy of recursive earthquakes: what we can learn from the Irpinia example.

14.20 | Dr Fabrizio Galeazzi, StoryLab, ARU: Non-linear storytelling and creative practice for reflecting on community resilience and sense of place in the context of natural catastrophic events.

14.40 | Prof. Rob Toulson, RT60: Holistic Sound Design for Immersive Documentaries: Fusing Soundscapes, Music and Dialogue in Italia Terremotata.

15.00 | Jad Aboulhosn and Dr Carlo Camporesi, University of California Merced: Immersive VR application of Italia Terremotata.

15.20 | Q&A

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