Technologically and politically ‘manufactured risks’ (Giddens, 1999) threaten people and nature depending on social and geographic location (Alario and Freudenburg, 2010; Marris, 1996). Paradoxical reactions from fear and trauma to hope and healing arise in response to disasters. Spiritual agency is a praxis based in spiritual reflection and action to transform social crises into opportunities; this dynamic process provides hope and mobilizes individuals and groups. While global crises are on the rise, a holistic paradigm shift—toward ‘co-creating’ more environmentally sustainable, peaceful societies based in social justice—is simultaneously underway. This paper explores the evolution of the concept of spiritual agency and how it can serve as a healing strategy for communities impacted by disasters. The Common Ground Relief collective in New Orleans is viewed as embodying this praxis in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill.
|Keywords:||Spirituality, Eco-feminism, Sociology of Disasters, Environmental Justice, Multiculturalism, New Orleans, Gulf Coast|
Sociology Lecturer, Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice, University of Wisconsin--Whitewater, Whitewater, Wisconsin, USA