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Keywords:

  • flood hazard;
  • “floodscapes”;
  • Piemonte;
  • space-making;
  • place-making

Abstract

The study of flood hazard has been a key theme within the spatial analysis of natural hazards. A number of authors have expanded on this tradition by adopting a society-oriented approach to risk perception. Thus a new framework has become available for exploring social response to risk and describing the relationship between human communities and hazards in terms of contemporary interpretative categories such as social representation and “stigmatization,” the latter defined as the process by which media and social actors mark places affected by disastrous events as dangerous and unsafe sites. This literature has made a vital contribution to the geographical reading of flood hazard, showing how flood risk generates both space- and place-making processes. In this paper I discuss the relationship between these two processes, suggesting that the political response to flood hazard may be viewed as a hetero-directed strategy that influences place-making at a local level. I illustrate this perspective using a field research conducted in 2006–2007 on the Po River Basin in Piemonte, an Italian region with high flood risk that has been affected by a series of events in recent decades.