Disasters are identified as main causes of change in place, which seriously disrupt the person-place emotional relationship. The disruption, as the most important consequence of the disasters, happens through corporeal alterations in the place, and physical and psychological damages in people, leading to anxiety and feeling of loss in residents. Recent settlement reconstruction processes tend to not only rebuild the survivors’ neighborhood physically, but also to reduce the psychological damages to the residents- as the main achievement of a rehabilitation process.
Due to the lack of theoretical frameworks of environmental sciences, especially environmental psychology and place attachment discussions, in disasters and the disasters’ effects on person-place relationship in one hand, and post-disaster reconstruction role in recreating place-attachment and reducing the disruptions on the other hand, the research seeks to develop a theory based on understanding and assessment of the factors causing disruption in place attachment after disasters. The sample community for performing the research was chosen among the residents of Bam who experienced the massive damages of the 2003 earthquake and the resulting changes in place.
Due to the qualitative nature of the research, it is based on the ethnographic research methods. The qualitative data collection is conducted through field observations and in-depth, face-to-face interviews applying a field study approach. Data analysis and the composition of the theory and the relevant explanations are done within the framework of "grounded theory", comprised of the process of open coding, axial coding, and selective coding (Strauss-Corbin, 1998).
In this study, in-depth interviews are conducted among 40 old residents of Emamzade Zeid and Emamzade Qasr-e-Hamid, with the age range of 25 to 65 years, living in the neighborhood prior to the earthquake, who could remember pre-while-post earthquake events. These people have reconstructed their homes during 10 years.
Research findings reveal that the most important factors causing post-earthquake disruption in place-attachment, from the residents’ viewpoint, were the loss of elements related to the city-identity, such as the Arg(citadel) and the Nakhlestans(palm groves). The residents also pointed out the loss of the sense of home, leading to reduction of social kinship and neighborhood relationships, as well as neighborhood identity degradation due to the physical destruction of the place. Finally, Bam residents interpret the interferences in place attachment as “Neighborhood Past Nostalgia”; causing a loss of interest in the neighborhood.
Contrary to the common belief in the importance of physical reconstruction to the survivors, other factors such as the reconstruction of identity-related elements of the city were emphasized along with necessary infrastructures for promotion of living conditions, neighborhood social relationships and neighborhood identity revival. These factors seem to have a positive impact in recreating the residents’ emotional bond with the reconstructed neighborhoods, which is a matter to be considered in post-disaster reconstruction planning, especially at neighborhood level.