Accepted Paper:

Religious interpretations of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami in Aceh: discourses between Islam and science  


Chie Saito (Suzuka International University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper analyzes causes of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami according to people in Aceh, Indonesia, who have discussed it in Islamic frameworks. I also examine Acehnese Muslims' discourses with science.

Paper long abstract:

This paper examines reasons why Acehnese Muslims have said the tsunami struck Aceh, Indonesia. There is a special focus on religious reasons. Following large-scale Sumatran-Andaman earthquakes, tsunamis hit Aceh and other areas adjacent to the Indian Ocean in 2004. The damages and losses the tsunamis brought to Aceh were so severe that a long conflict between the Indonesian military and GAM or Free Aceh Movement concluded with a peace agreement. Since the disaster, many scientists and NGOs have entered Aceh to offer aid and reconstruction. Some scientists have tried to disseminate scientific knowledge of earthquakes and tsunamis in order to mitigate future risks. On the other hand, people in Aceh, where Islam is dominant, preferred to discuss the causes of the tsunami in Islamic contexts. DVDs and books sold in the affected area also stated religious reasons why the tsunami hit Aceh. However, earthquakes occurring in 2013 showed scientific knowledge of tsunami had become widespread among those who live in one coastal village in Aceh. This paper also discusses how Muslims in Aceh have tried to negotiate with science, or incorporate science into Islamic frameworks.

Panel P118
Mourning, memorialization and recovery in post-disaster contexts