The Archaeology of Yolanda: Foucault and Reconstructing the Disaster

Mr. Wendyl Luna2

2University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

In this paper, I provide a view of Typhoon Yolanda through the lens of Foucauldian archaeology. I argue that considering Yolanda less as a ‘document’ to be deciphered but as a ‘monument’ to be described not only gives a fresh outlook on the devastating super typhoon but also shows that its historico-critical reconstruction is possible. Drawing on Foucault’s notion of archaeology that seeks neither to ‘memorise’ nor impute meaning on documents, such a reconstruction undertakes an ‘archival work’ that describes Yolanda by critiquing whenever possible the relationships between some of its elements—for example, how the displaced, despite being disconnected from their homes, can creatively conduct their lives. The task of the historian-critic, then, is to pay heed to these creative (counter-)conducts undertaken in relation to disaster governance. It is hoped that, with the archaeology of Yolanda, we may not only remember it for the devastating storm surges that claimed thousands of lives but, more importantly, engage with it as that through which we address contemporary issues.


Wendyl Luna is currently undertaking his PhD (Philosophy) at UNSW in Sydney, Australia. His research interests lie primarily in Continental Philosophy, particularly the philosophies of Immanuel Kant and Michel Foucault. His PhD thesis examines Foucault’s reading of Kant.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

Conference Managers

Please contact the team at Conference Design with any questions regarding the conference.

Photo Credits: Visit Victoria

© 2019 Conference Design Pty Ltd