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Natural disaster arrhythmia and action sports: The case of the Christchurch earthquake

Taking inspiration from French sociologist and philosopher Henri Lefebvre’s theory of ‘rhythmanalysis’, the author advocates new ways of thinking about the impact of natural disaster on the bodies and everyday mobilities of those who continue to live in disrupted spaces. Drawing upon interviews conducted with residents living in Christchurch, New Zealand, before, during and after the devastating February 2011 earthquake, she explains how this ‘arrhythmic’ experience forced many to rethink the importance of sport and physical activity in their everyday lives, and for their affective connections to space, place, family and community. She describes how some committed action sport participants adopted highly creative practices in order to continue their participation in sports such as surfing, skateboarding, mountain biking and climbing. In so doing, the familiar rhythms of recreational sport helped some cope with the many stresses of daily life during the long process of recovery, and contributed to the rebuilding of personal and collective identities, affective relationships with place, and a sense of belonging in post-disaster geographies.