Accepted Paper:

Positive or negative: what makes life in the evacuation shelter positive?  


Shoichiro Takezawa (National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka)

Paper short abstract:

Through a comparison of life of the evacuees in different shelters, we can understand what makes life in some shelters positive and that in others negative.

Paper long abstract:

During my fieldworks in the areas hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake, my research theme was to understand how people organized their life in the evacuation shelters. A life in these centers is like something Victor Turner called in-between situation, that is, a life different from the daily life before the event and that they are going to construct after it. Turner considered that the life in-between is an ideal one where a communal atmosphere prevails. But our research confirmed that in some shelters this atmosphere prevailed, but in others, not. So the issue is to know what differentiated the former from the latter.

My fieldworks could distinguish three types of shelters. One is that set up in the area where the notion of collectivity was very strong. Here the evacuees could easily re-establish their life and work together to overcome obstacles. On the contrary, the shelters set up in downtown where the relationship among people was not cordial could not furnish the occasions for the evacuees to make a positive move. Among the shelters in downtown, however, there were some run by local associations where the collectivity could be established easily among those who had not known each other.

In our time, a locality where the community tie is strong is rare. But if the local associations recognize each other in ordinary times, it enables to construct a kind of loose community that will be able to make a life in the shelters positive.

Panel P023
Living with disaster: comparative approaches (JAWS/JASCA joint panel)