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Accepted Paper:

Slowing down, making detours… Or how to attune with radioactivity  
Sophie Houdart (CNRS)

Paper short abstract:

Examining the disaster that affected Japan in 2011 – a large-scale earthquake, a tsunami, a nuclear accident –, I show how an urgent mode of documentation often has the effect of crystallizing the analysis on a marked break between before and after, and thus misses crucial aspects of the situation.

Paper long abstract:

Some investigations require a change of pace. A priori, a disaster situation, such as the one that affected Japan in March 2011 (a large-scale earthquake, a tsunami, a nuclear accident), calls for an urgency mode, designed to document, as closely as possible to the source (temporal and geographical) of the disaster, what is happening. While it offers valuable insights into forms of emergency intervention, conceived as responses to crisis situations (whose scenarios were nevertheless planned well in advance), this urgency mode often has the effect of crystallizing the analysis on a marked break between before and after. The investigation I have been conducting in Japan since 2012 has convinced me that there is, on the contrary, everything to gain by disengaging, slowing down, taking detours, persevering. As a Japanese proverb invites us: "If you are in a hurry, take a diversion" (急がば回れisogaba maware). Initiated classically as an investigation into the programs for measuring radioactivity in the air, soil and food through which the inhabitants were learning to experience their new living conditions after the disaster, my research has been diverted by a number of episodes that highlighted a disturbed regime of temporality, both from the point of view of the people involved and that of the investigator. Taking note of these successive disruptions, I would like to render how changes in the methods used in the field were linked to the very object in question: life in contaminated territory.

Panel PlenC
Reinventing urgent anthropology: EASA Exec Plenary