Applied Anthropology in Post-Disaster Recovery

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On Wednesday 20 November, Dr. Roberto E. Barrios from Southern Illinois University, Dept. of Anthropology, held a seminar entitled Applied Anthropology in Post-disaster Recovery: Multicultural Approaches to Displaced Community Reconstruction in Vytautas Magnus University.

According to R. E. Barrios, disaster recovery is a complex process where a collection of actors, ranging from disaster survivors of various socio-economic backgrounds to government officials, architects, and urban planners, come together to make decisions about how to reconstruct a community. The ideas entertained by these actors articulate varying assumptions about the nature of people, social wellbeing, and the practices necessary to produce this wellbeing. In some occasions, these actors also have significant differences in how they imagine community recovery, leading to tensions, contestations, and impositions over the course of reconstruction.

This presentation reviewed how the application of anthropological theories and methods in post-disaster contexts helps us understand what is at stake among contested visions and practices of disaster recovery and provide us with the analytical resources to resolve these differences.

The presentation used examples from hurricane “Mitch” in Honduras (1998) and hurricane “Katrina” in New Orleans, USA (2005).

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