Mount Etna Sicily: Vulnerability and Resilience during the Pre-Industrial Era

Sangster, H ORCID: 0000-0001-6024-9041, Chester, DK ORCID: 0000-0001-8722-360X and Duncan, A ORCID: 0000-0003-3897-3329
(2015) Mount Etna Sicily: Vulnerability and Resilience during the Pre-Industrial Era. In: Past Vulnerability: Volcanic eruptions and human vulnerability in traditional societies past and present. Aarhus University Press,Denmark, pp. 39-61. ISBN 9788771242324

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Mount Etna is one of the world’s few continually active continental volcanoes and its frequent flank eruptions have been recorded since classical times. These studies have generated a vast literature which, not only enables the impact of eruptions, recovery from them and aspects of human vulnerability and resilience to be brought into focus, but also provides information that allows an assessment to be made of the interplay between environmental, economic and social forces which has shaped this area into Sicily’s most distinctive region. In this paper we argue that a unique agriculturally-based society, largely developing indigenously and without significant outside assistance, evolved during a long pre-industrial era, which stretched from late antiquity until the 1950s. In terms of loss-bearing, responses were also typically pre-industrial, with the 1923 eruption denoting the close of this period. Responses were managed with relatively little outside help or intervention. The 1928 eruption marked a transition, after which responses involved progressively greater State intervention. In the pre-industrial era eruptions were managed at three levels: through limited State involvement; by mutual support within village communities, in which religious belief and explanations for losses provided both a social cement - the church often providing leadership and pastoral support - and a context in which losses could be explained; and by family and extended family groups. Finally we argue that these indigenous mechanisms of coping hold important lessons about how disasters on Etna may be managed today.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: Mount Etna, Vulnerability, Resilience, Pre-industrial Era, Agriculture, Eruptions
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2016 14:06
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2022 01:54