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IBS Speaker Series: Flooded: Chronic Disaster, Mothering, and Curated Community

March 2, 2020 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Rachel Kimbro

This occurrence of the IBS Speaker Series is a video feed from the University of Colorado Denver, comments/questions will be shared and answered via videoconference. Lunch will still be provided to all who attend.

Abstract: As climate change accelerates and intensifies extreme weather events, how will residents of low-lying communities adapt? For one affluent neighborhood in Houston, the answer is surprising. In 2017, Hurricane Harvey catastrophically flooded Bayou Oaks, and this was the third such flood in three years. Instead of fleeing for higher ground, Flooded reveals that most residents of this flood-prone area have no intention of leaving. Drawing upon 72 in-depth interviews with 36 mothers whose homes flooded, interviewed right after Harvey and again a year later, the book argues that their ties to Bayou Oaks are so powerful because it fits a series of precise criteria the mothers held for where to raise their families in this enormous, turbulent city, with the right kind of neighbors and public school being primary. As a result, mothers poured themselves into disaster preparation and recovery just as intensively as they parented their children, drawing upon the neighborhood’s flood capital and their own class-related efficiency, assisted by deep social and financial resources. The typically gendered labor of family life became more stark during the recovery year. For most of the mothers, this overwhelmingly gendered recovery labor felt like “another full-time job.” As the mothers’ mental load became unbearable, spousal conflict increased significantly, and the mothers’ mental and physical health deteriorated. As the guardians of their family’s upper-middle-class status in precarious economic times, the mothers were willing to battle Mother Nature to keep hold of the community they’d chosen so carefully, and to secure the future they wanted for their children. But at what cost?

Bio: Rachel Tolbert Kimbro (Ph.D., 2005, Princeton University) is a Professor of Sociology at Rice University and the Founding Director of the Kinder Institute's Urban Health Program. Dr. Kimbro earned her M.A. in Sociology at Princeton and her B.A. in Sociology and Policy Studies at Rice. Following her doctoral work at Princeton, Dr. Kimbro was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar at the University of Wisconsin, Madison where she received interdisciplinary training in population health. Dr. Kimbro's research focuses on racial and ethnic health disparities and family influences on health behaviors and outcomes. Current work examines family and neighborhood influences on child obesity, food insecurity, and physical activity in low-income and immigrant families. She is a Founding Faculty Member at Texas Children's Hospital's Center for Child Health Policy and Advocacy, a Baker Institute Scholar, and adjunct faculty at Baylor College of Medicine.

Light lunch served at 11:45.


March 2, 2020
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm


CU Population Center
CU Denver


IBS 155
Institute of Behavioral Science 1440 15th Street
Boulder, CO 80302
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