This talks aims to examine the questions of how disaster researchers can use maps to locate “culture” and “local knowledge” in supposedly objective representations of disaster. As an anthropologist studying disaster, I attempt to present a close-up view of the cultural layering processes of interpreting maps of a disaster to argue that using maps achieves both the naturalization of the disaster and essentialization of hazards by habituating an interpretative framework in metaphorically containing and literally delimiting an emergent unknown. By juxtaposing five types of maps materialized in interpreting the Fukushima nuclear disaster, I argue that maps are both interpretative habits and material objects that presuppose and entail the lived experience of the disaster containment. This observation suggests the importance of historicizing the location of our study—pre-disaster of a disaster—in gaining a more holistic view of the disaster. For disaster researchers, map(s), as a historically meaningful series of signs of society and actions in society, are a useful analytical tool to use in identifying the work of semiotic re-territorialization—a materialization technology of a belief in which a propositional representation of an abstract layering of signs is presented and acted as if it is the only tangible, thus, plausible evidence of the belief.
Lecture in English / No prior registration necessary
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