Accepted Paper:

Remembrance, commemoration and memorial ceremonies in post-tsunami Thailand  

Author:

Monica Lindberg Falk (Lund University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper will address memorial practices and the sentiment that the memorial commemorations bring about among Thai survivors after the Indian Ocean Tsunami 2004. It will include narratives and demonstrate that memorials, as manifestations of communal grief, are sensitive in many ways.

Paper long abstract:

Memorial ceremonies serve varying purposes, from national recognition of a tragedy to healing an individual's inner wounds. An important aim is to make a catastrophic event comprehensible. The Indian Ocean Tsunami 2004 hit thirteen countries and about 300,000 people were killed. In Thailand approximately 10,000 perished and among them were foreign tourists from nearly forty countries.

This paper will address memorial practices and the sentiment that the memorial commemorations bring about among Thai survivors. It will discuss the significance of memorials by focussing on the divergence between the memorial ceremonies organized by local communities affected by a disaster and memorial ceremonies organized by the state. The distinctions lay both in the significance paid to religion and in the politicization of the ceremonies.

This paper will include narratives and demonstrate that memorials, as manifestations of communal grief, are sensitive in many ways. How the memorial is presented and how the event is conducted reflect more the concerns of those who arrange and control the public activities that may surround it.

The ethnography for this paper is based on a long-term anthropological research carried out after the tsunami in Phang Nga, the worst hit province in Thailand.

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