Background and activities


PhD project: the Political Geography of Disasters - a case study of the fire in Lærdal, Norway

Brief outline: this study draws on qualitative place-based fieldwork, secondary documentation and media analysis of a fire in Lærdal, Norway. The overall aim is to investigate how important factors in preparing for, acting during and recovering after a disaster are perceived and enacted at different scales. In this project local perceptions of disaster management are focal. At the same time attention is paid to the discourse on disaster management which persists at the national level - and the dissonace that appears between different discourses of disaster management at different scales in Norway.

Research questions that are dealt with are (I) how are disasters perceived and acted upon in local communities? (II) How do disasters reveal underlying dynamics between individuals, organizations and institutions? (III) What are the different discourses of disaster management in Norway, and how are they legitimized?

Case study: the project focuses on Lærdal, a small municipality in Western Norway with 2200 inhabitants, and a fire in the village center on January 18th 2014. The fire threatened to destroy the historical part of the village, which is of national value with its 160 protected buildings. 70 people were left without a home and the fire was quickly defined a national crisis. The fire in Lærdal was particularly challenging as an unusually dry winter, and strong wind, made the fire spread quick and random. In addition, infrastructure and communication broke down during the night, and Lærdal was at large left to depend on local forces to fight a disaster which potentially could have caused loss of life.

Keywords: political ecology, disasters, fire, knowledge, power, discourse, disaster management, scale, place, Lærdal, Norway

Supervisors: Prof. Haakon Lein (Department of Geography, NTNU) and Prof. Tim Richardson (Department of Landscape Architecture and Spatial Planning, NMBU)

Time period: February 2014 – February 2018

Part of projects:

Climate change and natural hazards: the geography of community resilience in Norway (ClimRes):

the Nordic Centre of Excellence on Resilience and Societal Security (NORDRESS):

Previously I have completed an MPhil in Development Studies, specializing in Geography at the Department of Geography, NTNU. The thesis focused on perceptions of forest in relation to deforestation and the forthcoming implementation of Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD), based on fieldwork in four villages in Kilwa, Tanzania.

Andresen, Silje Aurora. 2012. Negotiating Trees. Perceptions of Forest: a Case Study from Kilwa, Tanzania. Master’s thesis, NTNU – Trondheim

Scientific, academic and artistic work

Displaying a selection of activities. See all publications in the database

Journal publications


  • Andresen, Silje Aurora. (2012) Negotiating Trees. Perceptions of Forest: a case study from Kilwa, Tanzania. 2012.


  • Andresen, Silje Aurora. (2015) Aldri beredt?. Dagens Næringsliv [Avis]. 2015-06-06.
  • Andresen, Silje Aurora. (2015) Extremwetter in Europa/Phénomènes climatiques extrêmes. ARTE [TV]. 2015-11-28.
  • Wolden, Grete; Andresen, Silje Aurora. (2015) Hva skjer når været ødelegger hjemmet ditt?. [Internett]. 2015-03-20.
  • Andresen, Silje Aurora. (2014) Klimaforskar skal studere lærdalsbrannen. God morgon Sogn & Fjordane [Radio]. 2014-08-11.
  • Andresen, Silje Aurora. (2014) Silje forskar på brannråka bygd. Sogn Avis [Avis]. 2014-08-10.
  • Andresen, Silje Aurora. (2014) Skal studere lærdalsbrannen. NRK Sogn & Fjordane [Internett]. 2014-08-11.