Accepted Paper:

Voices from Tohoku: collecting and sharing digital archives of 3.11 oral narratives  


David Slater (Sophia University)

Paper short abstract:

Through the collection of one of the largest video oral narrative archives on the 3.11 disaster our university-based team worked with 8 different communities in Tohoku to create community memory and scholarly data.

Paper long abstract:

Public anthropology, in our view, involves the doing of some good, either through the practice of data collection or through the dissemination of results. We have tried to do both, to varying degrees of success and failure, in our effort to make some record of events since 3.11. Through early volunteer work, we were asked in Rikuzen Takata to start recording stories of volunteers, and then of residents. Since the spring of 2011, a research team based at Sophia University with faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, has been collecting long-format and relatively unstructured interviews that capture the complexity of the moment as individuals take stock of their own changing situation. As such these interviews focus less on the sensational moments of impact and escape, than on the socio-cultural dynamics of everyday life and struggle, pre- and post-3.11. Always including more volunteer work and collaborating with local community organizers, we have worked in 10 different communities, from Otsuchi in the north to Koriyama in the south, and will include Tokyo anti-nuke protesters next year. We have collected more than 400 hours of video, and are archiving, transcribing and translating them to be indexed by theme and demographics into two different searchable databases, one scholarly and another for more public use.

Our presentation will address the dynamic of volunteer work and fieldwork, community relations in the process of data collection and still developing technicalities and ethics of mounting a digital archive for community and research purposes.

Panel P024
Practicing a public anthropology in communities devastated by the East Japan Disaster