A Study of Community Involvement at the Isthmus of Tehuantepec after the 2017 Earthquakes

This document corresponds to the Critical Conservation master's thesis by Betzabe Valdes, presented at Harvard University in 2019.

The document tells the story of an ill-prepared disaster-prone region that struggles to recover, in part, because authorities lacked an understanding of the central role of culture, geography, and local risk perception. Likewise, residents’ contextually-embedded attitudes towards risk focused their attention away from the region’s well-ingrained vulnerabilities, hindering their capacity to move forward constructively in the face of disaster. The thesis concludes with recommendations for building on existent risk perceptions so as to lay the groundwork for resilient and proactive efforts to secure a more stable future while also preparing for the next disaster.

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Lessons from Post-Earthquake Rubble Management in Oaxaca, Mexico

This article stems from the Risk and Resilience master's thesis by Deni Lopez, presented at Harvard University in 2019.

This paper examines rubble management as an important but often neglected component of disaster response and a powerful example of the frequent disconnect between national plans and local action. The results show that local perspectives were given little consideration in nationally-led rubble management plans, and that these documents were likely shaped by concerns over what constituted institutional legitimacy, rather than attention to local context. The paper concludes with a discussion of the findings through the lens of institutional isomorphism and offers recommendations for more effective post-disaster rubble management, particularly centered on increasing the involvement and capacity of residents, municipal governments, and other key institutions.

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Reflections on Post-Earthquake Recovery in Oaxaca, Mexico After the 2017 Earthquakes

Last year Harvard Graduate School of Design faculty and students published a report based on two years of research and studio practice focused on Oaxaca, Mexico after its devastating 2017 earthquake. Based on work with partners at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and elsewhere, and through comparative reflection on Chile’s disastrous earthquake a few years prior, the contributors to this publication analyzed what went wrong in the initial disaster recovery in Oaxaca and proposed alternative frameworks for moving forward. They include a series of proposals, projects, and concrete policy suggestions intended to help vulnerable citizens and public officials prepare for the next disaster.


In light of the earthquake in Oaxaca on June 23th, 2020 we wanted to share these efforts for any and all who might find these materials of interest.

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