Japan Copes with Calamity – in the News

Gill et al. coverJapan Copes with Calamity: Ethnographies of the Earthquake, Tsunami and Nuclear Disasters of March 2011, edited by Tom Gill, Brigitte Steger and David H. Slater, features on the University of Cambridge website in an article titled Rescuing normality: Day-to-day life inside Japan’s disaster shelters and in the Cambridge News article Cambridge don records life in tsunami disaster shelter. Author and co-editor Brigitte Steger was interviewed for both articles.

Please join us for the book launch at the Japan Foundation, on Wednesday 20 November, at 6:30 pm. Click here for more details.

This book is the first collection of ethnographies in English on the Japanese communities affected by the giant Tohoku earthquake and tsunami of 11 March 2011 and the ensuing crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. It brings together studies by experienced researchers of Japan from field sites around the disaster zone. The contributors present the survivors’ struggles in their own words: from enduring life in shelters and temporary housing, through re-creating the fishing industry, to rebuilding life-ways and relationships bruised by bereavement. They contrast the sudden brutal loss of life from the tsunami with the protracted anxiety about exposure to radiation and study the battle to protect children, family and a way of life from the effects of destruction, displacement and discrimination. The local communities’ encounters with volunteers and journalists who poured into Tohoku after the disaster and the campaign to win compensation from the state and nuclear industry are also explored. This volume offers insights into the social fabric of rural communities in north-eastern Japan and suggests how the human response to disaster may be improved in the future.

Tom Gill is Professor of Social Anthropology at the Faculty of International Studies, Meiji Gakuin University in Yokohama.
Brigitte Steger is Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Studies at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Downing College.
David H. Slater is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Liberal Arts at Sophia University in Tokyo and Director of the Institute of Comparative Culture there.

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