Rory Walshe


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Personal profile

Research interests (short)

Project Title: Déjà vu or jamais vu? How memory shapes response and recovery from tropical cyclones in the longue durée: a small island case study of communities and institutions from Mauritius, S.W Indian Ocean

Research interests: Climate Change Adaptation, Disaster Risk Reduction, Small Island Developing States

Biographical details

Rory is a PhD student on the NERC London Doctoral Training Partnership.

His specialisms are in vulnerability and resilience, particularly involving rural communities and local knowledge, with a geographic specialism on small islands. 

He completed a BSc Disaster Management degree (1st class honours) at Coventry University and an MSc in Climate Change and International Development (Distinction) at the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Research interests

Tropical cyclones are a considerable threat to the people, economy and environment of Mauritius, with intense cyclones having an approximate return interval between 8 to 15 years. However, Mauritius has not been hit by a large cyclone for a comparatively long time, and the vulnerability of the island is debated. Critically, details regarding the impact of and response to past cyclones in Mauritian history is relatively scant and there is very little known about the role of memory in responses to cyclones, either from a current or historical standpoint.


This research deploys a combination of rural community interviews with expert and policy stakeholder interviews and archive historical research. These methods are combined to illustrate the past experience and impact of tropical cyclones in Mauritius, and equally importantly, the slowly changing patterns of responses and the role of cultural memory in disasters, for both rural communities and decision-making institutions, all of which act out over the long term: the longue durée.


The results deliver a chronology of cyclones across Mauritian history and uncover several repetitive patterns of responses, indicating that disaster response is strongly conditioned by memory (or forgetting) of past events. Results also reveal that cultural factors play a considerable role in shaping the experience and creation of disasters in memory. Furthermore, institutional decisions made in the distant past (themselves shown to be shaped by memory) determined the experience of cyclones and vulnerability in Mauritius for many years after and are connected to the current state of vulnerability today. The research therefore has clear implications for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation policy both in Mauritius and for other small island developing states.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Climate Change and International Development , Master in Science, University of East Anglia

Award Date: 1 Oct 2015

Disaster Management , Bachelor of Science, Coventry University

Award Date: 1 Oct 2012


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