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How Cultural Researchers Help Disaster Survivors Cope in the Aftermath

Scholars from Ohio State University, two Japanese universities to talk about using ethnography to meet survivors’ recovery needs

The frequency and scale of today's natural and human-made disasters spotlight two problems.

First, the survivors are in need of immediate help, and cultural researchers – ethnographers, folklorists and cultural anthropologists – are often the people who can respond most sensitively and effectively to the survivors' needs.

Second, the scale of many disasters is so great that the professional community is unable to serve the survivors, and cultural researchers are often in a position to help survivors access their own self-help strategies, which can be more effective than outsider professional approaches.

Three scholars will discuss on Monday, October 22 how cultural researchers use ethnography to research everyday life after disaster strikes and address disaster survivors’ short-term and long-term recovery needs.

The event will be held in the Honors Commons of M.D. Anderson Library from 5 – 7 p.m. and is presented by the Departments of English and Comparative Cultural Studies in conjunction with the Center for Public History, the Honors College and the Asian American Studies Program in the College of Education.

Two featured speakers are Japanese scholars – cultural anthropologist and folklorist Yoko Taniguchi of Senshu University and folklorist Koji Kato of Tohoku Gakuin University – who will talk about the folkloristic research they conducted after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami and other recent earthquakes in Japan. Amy Shuman, professor of English and Anthropology at Ohio State University, will discuss her findings on the power of narrative to heal.

CLASS’s own Carl Lindahl, a folklorist and English professor, will speak briefly about his work with the survivors of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

This event is part of the Center for Public History’s El Paso Lecture Series and honors the Medical Anthropology program in the Department of Comparative Cultural Studies, as well as the Medicine and Society Program in the Honors College.