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Sustainable Flood Memories

From 2010-2013, Dr Joanne Garde-Hansen was co-investigator of the ESRC funded Sustainable flood memories and the development of community resilience to flood.jpgfuture flood risk. Awarded £242,263, the project's principal investigator was Prof Lindsey McEwen (University of the West of England) and the second co-investigator was Prof Owain Jones (Bath Spa University). The project explored the nature of flood memory and its relationship to the development of local knowledge for increased community resilience to local flood risk. Garde-Hansen's focus was upon the use of media for recording flood events and remembering those events through digital and social creativity and networks. The project worked with communities and organisations in the lower Severn valley in the aftermath of the July 2007 floods. In particular, it reflected upon:

• how communities remember and archive flood experiences

• how these memories are materialised, assimilated, embedded and protected in contemporary communities and culture

• how sustainable flood memories might have a particular role in developing community resilience to residual risk

• how communities themselves and organisations charged with flood resilience planning can engage with, and support, development of sustainable flood memories

The public engagement partners in the project were diverse - involving community, those responsible for local flood risk management, alongside representatives from archives and broadcast media.

From 2013-2014, the project led directly to follow on funding from the ESRC Knowledge Exchange Opportunity. Garde-Hansen worked with McEwen and Jones, alongside the Environment Agency, on a project entitled Sustainable Flood Memory - trialling digital storytelling as a form of adaptive learning and knowledge exchange for resilience in at risk communities. During this period in particular the mediatization of flooding was pivotal to how communities mobilised support and remained resilient, not simply in terms of traditional media frames of 'biblical' deluge but through the interactive and social use of online networks such as Twitter and Facebook. When the project first started after the 2007 floods, such networks had not been mobilised in this way. Our future research will continue to focus upon how social media is being used to create flood heritage.

From 2014-2015, Joanne Garde-Hansen has continued the ESRC funded research with an Impact Acceleration Account project. Collaborating with Prof Rob Procter (Computer Science), Dr Arkaitz Zubiaga (Computer Science) and PhD student Nataliya Tkachenko, Garde-Hansen is developing a Flood Memory App, with the input from the Environment Agency and community stakeholders in Tewkesbury as beta testers.


 memory studies

Latest findings published in Memory Studies (soon to be open access with SageChoice)