Ethnographic Studies on Creative Rehabilitation from Natural Desasters
Project Leader : SHIMIZU, Hiromu
Project Members :
Period : FY2012-2015
Research Summary :
This project is composed of nine members from different disciplines ranging from anthropology, sociology, history, area studies, public health to civil engineering, who have long experiences of researching on the impacts and influences of natural disasters that afflict human communities. Their research sites and topics cover Japan (Unzen Eruption 1991, Hanshin Awaji Earthquake 1995), China (Wènchuān Earthquake 2008), Indonesia and Thailand (Sumatra-Andaman Earthquake and Tsunami 2004), and Turky (Izmit 1999).
Natural disasters destroy social and life infrastructures, bring death to thousands of people, and can lead to the destruction of previous ways of life as well as conventional socio-cultural institutions. Disasters attack most mercilessly those who are socially, economically and politically the most vulnerable because of being located at the lowest social strata or by being the most marginalized class.
According to observations and understandings of the members based on long time research, however, natural disasters in many cases create new spaces for victims or survivors to claim their basic human rights as well as struggles for construction of new communities in totally different and innovative ways so that their previous vulnerability can be alleviated. For all members, this aspect of the rehabilitation process is the most important topic to explore.
Half a year after this project was initiated, the Great Earthquake hit east Japan creating a huge tsunami which struck nuclear power plants along the coast line leading to a major nuclear accident. Accordingly, we revised our original plan to include this disaster as a study to be prioritized so as to be able to offer constructive suggestions on rehabilitation.