March 11, 2011 unleashed an unprecedented set of disasters in Northeast Japan (Tohoku): an earthquake of magnitude 9.0 centered off the Sanriku coast; a tsunami of stunning height and destruction; and a crippled nuclear reactor (Fukushima Dai-ichi). Understanding the enormity of these events, from the immediate moment through the protracted reflections, debates, and reconstruction since March 11, and evaluating the potential fundamental restructuring of the Tohoku region and Japanese society as a whole, presents major challenges to foreign scholars and observers. How has digital information available in real time – unlike Haiti, Banda Aceh, or New Orleans – altered the experience of and response to disaster? How do we interpret the local and national responses, apprehend the deep-seated cultural and social practices in play, and understand how these literal and figurative tectonic shifts impact how we see Japan and our work?
About the Speaker:
Ted Bestor is the Director of the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies and a Professor of Social Anthropology at Harvard University. As a specialist on contemporary Japanese society and culture, focusing much of his research on Tokyo, he has written widely on urban culture and history, pop culture, markets and economic organization, food culture, and the fishing industry. His books include: Tsukiji: The Fish Market at the Center of the World; Neighborhood Tokyo; Routledge Handbook of Japanese Culture and Society (with Victoria Bestor); and Doing Fieldwork in Japan (with Patricia Steinhoff and Victoria Bestor).
Co-sponsored by the Association for Asian Studies.