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Disaster CitizenshipSurvivors, Solidarity, and Power in the Progressive Era$
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Jacob A. C. Remes

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252039836

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252039836.001.0001

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“The Relief Would Have Had to Pay Someone”

“The Relief Would Have Had to Pay Someone”

Halifax Families and the Work of Relief

(p.105) 4 “The Relief Would Have Had to Pay Someone”
Disaster Citizenship

Jacob A. C. Remes

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines how the people of Halifax integrated disaster relief aid into their complex family economies following the explosion. Relief workers and managers offered aid that seemed obvious after the Halifax explosion destroyed houses and rendered them uninhabitable. However, only a few people availed themselves of the help extended by the army, people, and institutions of Halifax, often preferring to stay in their ruined houses, in the overcrowded homes of their friends and relatives, or even in hastily jerry-rigged shacks. Drawing on a random sample of 739 case files of the Halifax Relief Commission, this chapter considers how survivors and other Haligonians engaged in delicate, subtle, and often tacit negotiations as they sought to maximize the material aid they claimed from the state while minimizing the autonomy and privacy the state took from them in return. It shows that many Haligonians rejected, or tried to reject, the new bureaucratic machine that offered them money and other material aid, and instead turned to the reciprocal solidarity of people they knew.

Keywords:   disaster relief, Halifax, Halifax Relief Commission, survivors, material aid, autonomy, privacy, Halifax explosion

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