Maria Otero-Auristondo

Maria Otero-Auristondo


Project title

'Disaster Identity' as a new analytical approach for Disaster Studies: The paradigmatic case of disaster identity construction in Valparaiso, Chile

Project overview

In disaster-prone places, a meaningful relationship can be detected amongst disaster, identity and place. It's depth and construction do not depend just to the frequency or variety of disaster exposure. It's depth is entwined with disaster-prone emplaced communities, with their history and future, but, most relevant, with their day-to-day-lives manifested in identity and place-making experiences.

The construction of identity is a complex process, not only in the temporary sense, but also in the spatial context as well. Chile, as a disaster-prone country, is contextualised in everyday life with both frequency and variety of disaster events. However, within this disaster-prone country exists a very disaster-prone city. Valparaiso, in this sense, presents itself as a paradigmatic case for the study of disaster identity construction in disaster-prone places.

With the help of a total history (Braudel, 1982) perspective, one disaster event can be studied not only in its current context. In spaces where identity and place-making are entwined with disasters, the last disaster event is just the last of a disaster history continuum, from where emplaced communities experience disasters as part of a normal quotidian experience.


Research Affiliations


  • Conicyt-BecasChile (Grant for postgraduate degrees of the National Comission of Science and Technology programme)
  • International Geographers Union Travel Grant, 2014.

Conferences: Attended and Presentations

  • International Geographers Union, University of Lisbon, october 2017.
  • 7th Nordic Geographers Meeting, Stockholm Univeristy, june 2017.
  • Cultural Resiliences or Resilient Cultures, King's College London, may 2017.
  • The Money Shot Workshop, University of Leicester, may 2017.
  • 7th PGR School of Geography Conference, may 2017.
  • Waste Workshop, University of Leeds, may 2017.
  • Futures of Memory Workshop, University of Leeds, febreaury 2017.
  • 9th Congress of Sociology, Universidad de Talca, october 2016.
  • Course in Disaster Management, Wessex Institute of Technology, june 2016.
  • PGS RGS-IBG Midterm Conference, Newcastle University, march 2015.
  • 3rd National Encounter of Universities of Latin-American and the Caribbean for the Reduction of Emergency Risk and Disaster (REDULAC), Universidad de Antofagasta, january 2016.
  • Annual Conference of the Centre of Conflicts and Cohesion Studies (COES) 2015: Urban Conflicts: defying social cohesion? Universidad Diego Portales and Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, november 2015.
  • Citizens- forum 2015: Public Politization, territory, emergency and creation, Universidad de Valparaiso, november 2015.
  • XXXVI National and XXI International Geography Congress of the Chilean Society of Geographical Science, Universidad Academia Humanismo Cristiano, october 2015.
  • 7th International i-Rec Conference and student competition: Reconstruction and Recovery in Urban Contexts, Universitty College London, july 2015.
  • AESOP Public Spaces and Urban Cultures: the power of places and the places of power, University of Glasgow, june 2015.
  • 5th PGR School of Geography Conference, University of Leeds may 2015.
  • Urban Informality International Workshop, The University of Manchester, april, 2015.
  • Geography Education Conference: The Power of Geographical Thinking. Geographical Association of IGU, Institute of Education, University College London, april, 2015.
  • Reframing Disaster: Disaster is not an event: Recovery, Reconstruction, Memorialisation Conference, University of Leeds, august, 2014.
  • Changes, Challenges and Responsabilities, Regional conference of the International Geographical Union, in Krakow, Poland, august, 2014.
  • Seminars of Didactics (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009).
  • National and International Congress of The Chilean Society of Geography (SOCHIGEO), 2013.
  • Seminars of Didactics of History and Social Science (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009), Instituto de Historia, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso
  • Seminar of Talented Learning, 2009, Programa Beta, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso

Research publications

Otero-Auristondo, Maria "The Role of Memory in Disaster Studies: a historic narrative of Valparaiso's experiences through the 1866 Bay Bombing, the 1906 Earthquake and the 2014 Mega Fire in Chile". The Sheffield Student Journal for Sociology, Edition 1-Social Issues, Autumn, 2017.

Arenas-Martija, Andoni, Perez-Gallardo, Patricio, Salinas-Silva, Victor and Otero-Auristondo Maria "What type of Geography do we teach? from theoretical-conceptual weaknesses to underestimation of spatial experience. Chilean teachers' views on teaching geography. Book chapter in: The Power of Geographical Thinking, Springer International Publishing, 2017.

Arenas-Martija, Andoni, Salinas-Silva, Victor, Margalef-Garcia, Leonor and Otero-Auristondo, Maria "Fragility of Pedagogical Content Knowledge in Geography". Journal of Geography, pp 1-10. 2016.


  • Grant of Postgraduate studies abroad, Conicyt-BecasChile (Grant for postgraduate degrees of the National Comission of Science and Technology programme)
  • IGU 2014 Travel Grant, awarded by the IGU 2014 commite.
  • 2015 Best Lecturer Award, selected by undergraduate students, in Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaiso.

Research interests

  • place and city making
  • informal urbanism
  • disaster events
  • historical approach
  • culture and place studies
  • postcolonial and mentalities perspective
  • post constructivism
  • social identities and social stereotypes


  • Teacher of History, Geography, Social Science
  • BSc in Education
  • BSc in History w/minor in Political Sciences
  • Master in History w/minor in Economic and Social History
  • Geographical Education Update Diploma