Resilience and Resistance in Islands

Gemma Sou, Can-Seng Ooi, Yunzi Zhang

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Studies on the resilience of islanders often strip them of their political agency and reduce their resilient actions to no more than adapting, mitigating and recovering from an exogenous hazard. In this chapter we challenge this apolitical understanding of island populations by contextualising their acts of resilience within the ongoing and historical colonial processes that characterise many islands across the world. We demonstrate that island people’s acts of grassroots resilience signify implicit acts of political resistance to pursue self-determination and relinquish their dependency on external powers. We draw on the case of Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017 in particular to show how people pursue greater control and sovereignty over their food supply in ways that implicitly challenge US domination over their everyday lives. We also argue that that exploring resilience “from below”, exposes how state-centric conceptualisations of resilience do not fit neatly with how disaster-affected island people define and intuitively enact resilience.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIslands and Resilience
Subtitle of host publicationExperiences from the Pandemic Era
EditorsCan-Seng Ooi, Roxanne de Waugh, Yunzi Zhang
Place of PublicationSingapore
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9789811999642
ISBN (Print)9789811999666
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2023

Publication series

NameSpringer Briefs on Case Studies of Sustainable Development


  • Resistance
  • Food Sovereignty
  • Puerto Rico
  • Colonialism
  • Grassroots movement


Dive into the research topics of 'Resilience and Resistance in Islands'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this