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Tuesday, May 17 • 11:30am - 12:00pm
(Emergency) Documenting Disasters: Post-Disaster Memory-Making and the Emergence of New Cultural Heritage

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Post-disaster, a variety of factors determine whether or not a particular event will become a significant part of the documented local historic narrative, and if so, what form that documentation will take. Media influence, cultural beliefs regarding death, dying, and treatment of the dead, indigenous knowledge of hazards and their impacts, and the influence of large international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the “heritage at risk” framework all have an impact on the process of post-disaster memory-making and the production of disaster-related cultural heritage.

This production of culture allows for various outcomes including commemoration of events and veneration of disaster sites, highlighting of the vulnerability or heroism of certain segments of the population, thanotourism (or dark tourism), or even the slow the fading of an event from public memory. This confluence of factors not only influences the archivistic processes by which objects and documents are deemed important enough to salvage or preserve (or are conversely excluded from the cultural narrative), but also the formation and functioning of organizations that do the work of preserving post-disaster cultural heritage. This paper explores lessons learned from fifty years of academic research on the post-disaster environment and further explores three relevant cases: the formation of the World Trade Center Documentation Task Force, the case of the “Tsunami Boats” following the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, and the “Mud Angels” of the 1966 Arno River Flood.

avatar for Valerie Marlowe

Valerie Marlowe

Doctoral Candidate, University of Delaware
Valerie Marlowe is a PhD Candidate in Disaster Science and Management in the School of Public Policy and Administration at the University of Delaware, and a Graduate Research Assistantat the DRC. Marlowe works with Dr. James Kendra, DRC Director, studying organizations and the production... Read More →

Tuesday May 17, 2016 11:30am - 12:00pm EDT
Room 513 A/C