Peace in the wake of disaster? Secessionist conflicts and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami
Philippe Le Billon (Liu Faculty, UBC) & A. Waizenegger
June 13, 2007

Le Billon, P. and A. Waizenegger (forthcoming 2007) “Peace in the wake of disaster? Secessionist conflicts and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami”. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers.

Abstract

This paper explores the impact of ‘natural’ disasters on armed conflicts, focusing on the evolution of secessionist conflicts in Aceh and Sri Lanka following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Most studies suggest that ‘natural’ disasters exacerbate pre-existing conflicts. Yet whereas conflict did escalate in Sri Lanka within a year of the tsunami, in Aceh hostilities unexpectedly ended within eight months. Drawing on a comparative analytical framework and semi-structured fieldwork interviews in Aceh, the study points to the importance of spatial dimensions in explaining diverging political outcomes in Aceh and Sri Lanka, focusing on the reshaping of governable spaces following the tsunami.