Today marks two years since a 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit Japan's Tohoku region. A string of additional catastrophes – tsunamis and nuclear explosions – closely followed.
The recovery is well under way, but the disaster continues to be experienced in too many ways to count.
Disasters often incite us to count, whether it is the number of the dead, the level of radioactivity, or the amount of lost economic productivity. The category of "disaster" invites comparison, between Fukushima, Chernobyl, and Three Mile Island, or Tohoku in 2011, New Orleans in 2005, and the Indian Ocean in 2004.
Yet, 3.11, like every disaster, is like no other. The very genre of disaster, as Chelsey Kivland suggests with Lauren Berlant, is one "whose conventions are stunned, disorganized, and open for change.”
In March, we have invited four writers to reflect on the theme of "Disaster."
Provocation: Ben MacMahan (Arizona)
Translation: Vivian Choi (Cornell)
Intervention: Anne Allison (Duke)
Integration: Kim Fortun (Rensselaer)
(See Cultural Anthropology's Hotspots forum on 3.11 Politics in Disaster Japan.)