CFP: Papers for AAS panel on Disaster Temporality

Chika Watanabe's picture

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Call for Papers
July 13, 2017 to July 20, 2017
Subject Fields: 
Asian History / Studies, Southeast Asian History / Studies, South Asian History / Studies, East Asian History / Studies, Environmental History / Studies

Dear all

We’re 3 Japan anthropologists looking for 2 more papers for the panel we’re organizing below (draft abstract) for the Association for Asian Studies (AAS) conference in Washington, DC, in March 2018. We want to put together a cross-border and interdisciplinary panel, so we’re particularly interested in papers outside of our expertise. Please send abstracts to by July 20th!


Isaac Gagne, DIJ German Institute for Japanese Studies

Shuhei Kimura, Tsukuba University

Chika Watanabe, University of Manchester


Disaster Temporality: Alternative Pasts and Possible Futures

What if a mass earthquake struck Tokyo tomorrow? What if evacuation centers had been effective during Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines? What if our estimates of future disasters are unable to account for demographic and climate changes?

As events of rupture, disasters provoke counterfactual "what if" questions that call for alternative histories and futures (Clarke 2006). People must assess what went wrong (or right) and how that "lesson" can be used to expand the imaginable, and thereby be better prepared for the future--as well as to come to terms with the past. This panel investigates how disasters push actors across the Asia-Pacific to reevaluate the region's histories and futures in the face of increasingly destructive "natural" disasters. As the most disaster-prone region in the world (ESCAP 2016), the Asia-Pacific presents a context in which people have to negotiate the relationship between experiences of (past) catastrophe with strategies of (future) preparedness in short spaces of time. The temporality of disasters is not neatly linear, but cyclical, compressed, and often messy. By comparing case studies between X, X, and X, we explore how the interconnected histories in the region impact the ways that people rework the past and future in contingent directions (Oakes 2017). Gagne explores how the intersection of national policies, local recovery plans, and ongoing displacement creates a "zoned liminality" for evacuees of the 2011 disaster in Japan. Kimura and Watanabe examine how Japanese aid actors re-envision Japan's experience with disasters into the future of preparedness in other countries such as Chile. [Add about other papers.] The panel offers a cross-border and interdisciplinary perspective on how disasters are reshaping people's formulations of the region's temporal trajectories.

Contact Info: 

Chika Watanabe, University of Manchester, Social Anthropology