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Japan Copes with Calamity

Ethnographies of the Earthquake, Tsunami and Nuclear Disasters of March 2011

Edited By Tom Gill, Brigitte Steger and David H. Slater

This book is the first collection of ethnographies in English on the Japanese communities affected by the giant Tohoku earthquake and tsunami of 11 March 2011 and the ensuing crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. It brings together studies by experienced researchers of Japan from field sites around the disaster zone. The contributors present the survivors’ struggles in their own words: from enduring life in shelters and temporary housing, through re-creating the fishing industry, to rebuilding life-ways and relationships bruised by bereavement. They contrast the sudden brutal loss of life from the tsunami with the protracted anxiety about exposure to radiation and study the battle to protect children, family and a way of life from the effects of destruction, displacement and discrimination. The local communities’ encounters with volunteers and journalists who poured into Tohoku after the disaster and the campaign to win compensation from the state and nuclear industry are also explored. This volume offers insights into the social fabric of rural communities in north-eastern Japan and suggests how the human response to disaster may be improved in the future.
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Notes on Contributors


ALYNE DELANEY, born in 1970, is from the United States and received her doctorate in cultural anthropology from the University of Pittsburgh in 2003. Since 2007 she has worked as an associate professor at Aalborg University (Denmark) in the Research Centre for Innovative Fisheries Management (IFM). Her research interests include social organization, coastal cultures, gender and social sustainability. Her publications on Japan include ‘Transition in nori cultivation: Evolution of household contribution and gendered division of labor’ in Cahiers de Biologie Marine (Vol. 52, 2011), and she has also published articles on European fisheries, particularly community studies and social impact assessments.

TOM GILL (Thomas P. Gill) was born in the United Kingdom in 1960, and received his doctorate in social anthropology from the London School of Economics in 1996. He is a professor in the Faculty of International Studies of Meiji Gakuin University, Yokohama, Japan. His research interests include marginal labour, homelessness and masculinity. Since 2011 he has been studying the victims of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. His numerous publications include Men of Uncertainty: The Social Organization of Day Laborers in Contemporary Japan (2001) and ‘Failed Manhood on the Streets of Urban Japan: The Meanings of Self-Reliance for Homeless Men’ in the collection Recreating Japanese Men, ed. Sabine Frühstück and Anne Walthall 2011).

IKEDA YOKO earned her PhD in Cultural Anthropology from City University of New York in 2009, with a dissertation titled ‘Digging...

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