Reflections and Narratives of Relief Work for Japan

* by David H. Slater

The measure, experience and meaning of a “disaster” is in large part a function of the relief that is, or is not, provided to those in need.

Focus: This is an open call for short (less than 700 words) pieces on the topic of relief and volunteer activities around the events collectively known as 3.11. We understand “relief” to include a wide range of support: from asking for donations on the street corners of London to digging mud in Ishinomaki; from running up food supplies to Fukushima to housing displaced kids in Kyoto; from fighting the April snows to the August rains; from acting as a part-time counselor to victims to leading corporate social responsibility programs at multi-national companies. Japanese and foreigners, students and adults, professionals and amateurs, practitioners and volunteers of any sort are welcome here.

Send your entries NOW in attached MSWord files to: 311reliefnarratives@gmail.com

Goal: We want to document the relief effort as it is going on. At a time when 3.11 has been largely pushed out of the news cycle, even in Japan, even though huge amounts of work still need to be done, one of our goals is to let others know about the work being done, the work you have done, and maybe the work still needing to be done. This is direct and maybe intimate, but it is not voyeurism. It is also not promotion for a single group, but please feel free to tell us the groups you are working with.

There is a strategic element to this call: to spread the word, to encourage others to contribute, to keep it going.

The single biggest reason that people do not volunteer is that they do not really know what it involves. Let’s tell them.

Format: These pieces must be short (less than 700 words) and to the point, vivid and direct, taking a single aspect of relief that can be captured and made meaningful in this format. No footnotes or bibliographies, but you could include links. The format is somewhere between an essay and a blog entry: it is shorter and more informal than an essay, but more focused on a particular topic or aspect than a blog entry.

Source: Your topic can be based on some sort of local practice, but your piece should be directed to a wider audience, beyond your academic discipline or professional context. First-person narratives are very welcome. This is a chance to digest and present some parts of your experience in ways that communicate to others.  It could be sad or funny, desperate or hopeful–all important parts of the relief experience.

Time-frame: If at all possible, review your older notes so we can include something from the earlier months: clearly, working in April was much different from working in August. Send both.

Your entry: We ask you to do your best to present a finished copy, but we will have the resources to proof-read your work when necessary. Japanese or English are both welcome. We encourage non-native English speakers to write something in English, and we can give it a “native check.”

Collective Product: In the end, we will collect, proof-read and present your entries digitally.  Pending some more funding, we will translate Japanese into English and English into Japanese. We are now arranging for newspapers, journals, universities, relief sites, and others to feature your work and offer links to your work. We will have a web-designer—not me—to make your good work accessible to others.

Clearly, we cannot tell the “whole story’ in 700 words: our intent is to provide enough different pieces to allow readers to understand some of the range and complexity behind disaster and relief.

Note: Multiple submissions from the same author are welcome. Selections from larger pieces are also fine (and might be a good way to draw attention to other related projects). You can use your blog entries if they are suitable or any other source that does not violate copyright.

Deadline: October 1st.  


Check Out Some Others’ Sample Entries Here

posted Oct 19, 2009 10:41 PM by David H. Slater   [ updated Aug 10, 2011 2:52 AM ]

Here are some examples of  others’ experiences. As you can see, they are of vary different styles and focus–which is just what we want.  Of course, since all of your expereinces are different, your entries will be different also.

Attachments (4)

  • Approaching a house.rtf – on Aug 8, 2011 4:04 AM by David H. Slater (version 1)
    3k Download
  • Fieldnotes from Iwanuma.rtf – on Aug 8, 2011 4:13 AM by David H. Slater (version 1)
    11k Download
  • Unstable Ground.doc – on Aug 8, 2011 3:30 AM by David H. Slater (version 1)
    28k View Download
  • What I saw in Tohoku.doc – on Aug 8, 2011 3:41 AM by David H. Slater (version 1)
    29k View Download 

More information can be found directly at the project page:
https://sites.google.com/site/japanreliefnarratives2/

David H. Slater is an associate professor of cultural anthropology at Sophia University, Tokyo, Japan. He has been active in the relief effort from the start. He has also been collecting narratives and reflections from volunteers, and now wants to put them together and bring them higher profile.

You can find out more about him here:
http://www.fla.sophia.ac.jp/academics/professors/slaterdavid
http://www.facebook.com/#!/david.h.slater

Please feel free to contact him with questions or suggestions for improvement directly at: dhslater@gmail.com

1 Comment

  1. 私のブログ (My Blog) says:

    This is a interesting line of content, very good article.
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