Aftermaths of disaster: individual/collective futures and the brutal logics of the past
Mitchell W Sedgwick (London School of Economics)
Susanna Hoffman (International Commission on Risk and Disaster)
Examination Schools Room 6
Start time:
19 September, 2018 at 9:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

This panel addresses the contestations of former and presently-lived experience among disaster victims. It also engages with the institutional structuring, by governments, NGOs, etc., of those persons, i.e., the disjunctions between 'expert knowledge' and disasters' real experts.

Long abstract:

This panel is concerned with unpacking the force of memory in our understanding of disaster. What does disaster mean to its participants and those engaging it indirectly? How do communities locate themselves after trauma? What, if anything, constitutes relief after 'disaster relief' is finished? Disaster is, of course, only selectively remembered. What is hidden and what continues to be made visible about the past, and by whom? What does the repression or molding of memory suggest about personal/psychological mechanisms of survival? This panel cuts a broad swathe across the temporal, spatial and institutional conditions of disaster, inviting interventions from those researching and/or who have themselves directly experienced disaster or other dislodging crises or conflicts: those temporarily or permanently extracted unwillingly from their familiar milieu. Papers engaging directly with survivors may relate personal psychological states and various coping mechanisms regarding 'recovery' of individuals and communities, or the loss and (possible) rehabilitation of destroyed spaces - as places, as material objects and/or as symbolic representations - all in order to directly address the contestations of former and presently-lived experience. -- We also engage the dynamics of relations of communities that have experienced disaster and those offering assistance, thus subjectifying disaster. As such, we wish to explore intersections of institutional structures - government, NGOs, etc. - with spaces of and persons in disasters: the disjunctions between expert knowledge and those actually expert in disaster: the victimized and the victims of disaster themselves. How are we, anthropologists, reading disaster?