Dr Gemma Sou

Lecturer in Disaster Studies

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I’m a development studies scholar and I draw heavily from human geography and anthropology. I’m interested in the everyday lived experiences of people affected by disasters, and disaster risk policy-making processes in postcolonial societies. I also work on the media representations of human vulnerability.

I’m currently working on two active projects: A longitudinal study of household disaster recovery in Puerto Rico. I’m using in depth interviews to follow 16 families as they recover from the impacts of Hurricane Maria (2017). Second, I’m exploring disaster recovery policy-making processes among national bureaucrats in postcolonial societies, looking at the Caribbean following Hurricane Irma (2017) and using lifework history methods. 

I am on the editorial board for the Journal of Humanitarian Affairs, and am Secretary for the Developing Areas Research Group at the Royal Geographical Society. I am also a Fellow of the Humanitarian Innovation Initiative at Brown University, U.S.A.


I am interested in supervising doctoral students on postcolonial approaches to disaster studies, grassroots disaster risk reduction and media representations of human vulnerability.


  • Global south, Postcolonial theory, Disaster risk reduction, Media representations , Socio-cultural approaches to disaster risk management, Risk perceptions, Human vulnerability

Education / academic qualifications

  • 2015 - Doctor of Philosophy, Development studies, Global Development Institute
  • 2009 - Master of Planning, Urban Development Planning in the Global South, The University of Manchester
  • 2008 - Bachelor of Arts, International Relations and Politics, The University of Sheffield
  • 2007 - Bachelor of Arts, Political Science (study abroad year), Virginia Tech

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