The Charmed Circle: Mobility, Identity and Memory around Mount Mayon (Philippines) and Gunung Awu (Indonesia) Volcanoes

Document Type


Publication Date



Volcanoes are surrounded by villages, towns, and polities that are constantly shifting location to benefit from the rich soils generated in the aftermath of eruptions, while, at the same time, avoiding the worst of their destructive potential. We explore the attraction of volcanoes in a Southeast Asian context through a comparative examination of the communities surrounding Mount Mayon in the Bicol peninsula of the Philippines and Gunung Awu on the island of Sangihe Besar in Indonesia. These volcanoes influence the location of settlements, forms of community identity, and the expression of cultural memories. We argue that risk awareness programmes that disregard the extent to which a volcano is embedded within the physical and mental fabric of a society and fail to connect to local historical cultural memory are likely to have little lasting effect on reducing people’s vulnerability.