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Keywords:

  • vulnerability;
  • hazards;
  • disasters;
  • Philippines;
  • theory.

Disasters seem destined to be major issues of academic enquiry in the new century if for no other reason than that they are inseparably linked to questions of environmental conservation, resource depletion and migration patterns in an increasingly globalised world. Unfortunately, inadequate attention has been directed at considering the historical roots of the discursive framework within which hazard is generally presented, and how that might reflect particular cultural values to do with the way in which certain regions or zones of the world are usually imagined. This paper argues that tropicality, development and vulnerability form part of one and the same essentialising and generalising cultural discourse that denigrates large regions of world as disease-ridden, poverty-stricken and disaster-prone.