Anthropology News October: How Anthropologists Can Respond to Disasters
In Anthropology News October, Kerry Fosher and Stacy Lathrop criticize that many emergency preparedness plans do not account for local practice. Since 2001, there has been produced a large amount of data and knowledge on responding to emergencies. What is lacking in their opinion, is "intelligent analysis of this information communicated meaningfully to the emergency planners and responders who will need to use it":
Anthropologists, skilled in social network analysis and ethnography, can contribute by providing the required analysis of massive information and communicating findings effectively. Many common concepts, such as “capacity building,” are centered in social relationships, the things you can’t easily photograph or quantify, but that are nonetheless essential to develop.
Every commentator on Hurricane Katrina and other disasters can say the right things about “coordination,” “collaboration” and “protecting underserved populations.” But anthropologists know the complexity and processes associated with those goals, and should ensure that the next round of solutions for emergency preparedness are grounded in the realities and practices of planners, responders and the communities they serve.
Also in Anthropology News, Patricia Plunket summarizes a seminar on natural disaster research in anthropology
Katrina disaster has roots in 1700s / Earthquake disaster in South Asia man-made (including more links on the anthropology of disaster)
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