A narrative inquiry into Vietnamese migrants' experiences of disaster risk reduction
The current research examined experiences of Vietnamese migrants in relation to disaster risk reduction, with a focus on those living in the Wellington Region, Aotearoa New Zealand. Specifically, I considered how Vietnamese migrants understand natural hazards and participate in disaster preparedness actions. Furthermore, Vietnamese migrants’ experiences were examined as situated within the socio-cultural context of Việt Nam and Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand, where neoliberal and individualistic frameworks are predominant. Critical realism and narrative theory were the ontological and theoretical frameworks that informed the research approach. The application of critical realism enabled me to account for socio-cultural frameworks that shaped how Vietnamese migrants engaged in disaster risk reduction. I employed narrative theory to centre Vietnamese migrants’ perspectives, through which they narrated their experiences. Interviews were conducted with six participants, whose stories portrayed nuanced disaster-related knowledge and experiences. Social connection as well as social isolation played an important role in the way they accessed information on disaster risks and engaged in preparedness. Humour and family relations were pivotal to the ways in which they recalled and discussed experiences of hazardous events and disaster risk reduction. Language barriers and fatalism were a part of their narratives, as expected from previous research, but the impact of these were complicated rather than straightforward. Contextual conditions, including individualistic and neoliberal values, framed the way in which social connection and isolation, socio-cultural practices, language barriers and fatalism pertained to their experiences of disaster risk reduction. These findings show that it is useful to divert from individualistic frameworks and suggest different ways disaster risk reduction can be understood and experienced by Vietnamese migrants. As such, they have significant implications for disaster management in practice in Aotearoa New Zealand.