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Resources to Help AAA Members Thoughtfully Assist the People of Japan at this Time of Crisis

AAA’s section, the Society for East Asian Anthropology (SEAA) is actively in tune to the events and needs in Japan following the devastating earthquake, tsunami and the evolving nuclear danger. With the assistance of SEAA’s current president, Jennifer Robertson, AAA President Virginia R. Dominguez would like to make available to the entire membership the following resources: news sources, resources for finding people in Japan, donating funds, connecting with others, and otherwise finding ways to help the people of Japan. 

Click here for our most up-to-date list of resources.

In addition, AAA urges its members to consider consulting with our partners in the Japanese Society of Cultural Anthropology (JASCA) and the World Council of Anthropological Associations. Our JASCA colleagues will be especially thoughtful and well-informed, and it is to our collective advantage to seek their counsel.

Outside Japan, those among us who are specialists on Japan, disasters, science and technology, and environmental matters are already answering media questions and assisting in the ways their expertise equips them. Thank you for your work, your knowledge, and your guidance.

Other members should consider utilizing our still new AAA Writers Circle to contribute widely and anthropologically to public knowledge and analysis in the United States and indeed all the countries in which AAA members live. 

On behalf of all AAA members, President Dominguez sends our deepest condolences and expressions of concern to everyone in Japan, their family members and their friends.

Inside Looking Out, Part Two

Pamela Runestad, a PhD candidate in medical anthropology at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, continues her account from Japan. Here is an excerpt:

I really wish I knew how dangerous the situation really is. On one hand, the Japanese government doesn’t want people to panic and the local media keeps repeating that current radiation levels (where?!) are not hazardous to health. On the other, the non-Japanese media seem to feed on the idea of impending doom. Most recently, the Japanese government via a bulletin on NHK World English actually asked foreign governments to calm down, to “accurately convey information provided by Japanese authorities concerning the plant.” In this squabble, each party has a vested interests; digging out helpful information is tedious and disheartening.

Should I stay or should I go?

To read the full “Inside Looking Out, Part Two” or the first part, go to the Triangle Center for Japanese Studies.

Inside Looking Out: A Perspective on the Japanese Earthquake

Looking for a first-person account from an anthropologist in Japan? Guest blogger Pamela Runestad, a PhD candidate in medical anthropology at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, shares her experiences during and after Friday’s earthquake in a piece called “Inside Looking Out: A Perspective on the Japanese Earthquake.” Here is an excerpt:

At 2:40 pm on Friday, I got on the highway bus to make a trip I’ve made several times this year in the course of my research in Japan: Shinjuku Station in Tokyo to Nagano City. It takes about 3 hours and 40 minutes and, much like Japanese trains, the bus runs on time to the minute more often than not. Friday was different.

We’d been on the bus long enough for me to take off my coat and shoes and settle into my seat with a book. I made it to page 4 when the bus, stopped at a traffic light, started to bounce. Yes, bounce – like a bounce house kids play in. I looked out the window and saw the traffic lights and electric poles moving wildly, violently. Earthquake, I thought; BIG EARTHQUAKE. People began running out of buildings covering their heads, then clinging to each other on the sidewalk. I hastily pulled my shoes back on, tying the laces with fingers made clumsy with adrenaline. (Yes, I was getting ready to be urban survival woman.) I noticed that the bus was completely silent. Really? No screaming?

The bouncing stopped.

In a flat voice, the driver made use of the microphone to say, “It appears we experienced an earthquake.” Well, YEAH! He kept driving.

Stunned, I turned my eyes from my silent, terse fellow passengers and fixed my eyes on the scenes we passed outside. As I looked at the people on the other side of the glass, I realized: Shinjuku had stopped.

To read the full piece, go to the Triangle Center for Japanese Studies.

Special Message from AAA President Dominguez for Japan

A special message from AAA President Dominguez for colleagues and friends in Japan:

Dear friends and colleagues in the WCAA,

I am truly distressed, as you no doubt also are, by the devastation in Japan and the continued terrible nuclear disaster potential there. I want to send condolences and the warmest regards of concern and collegiality to the Japanese association, all of its members, their families, students, and friends.

In sympathy and friendship (and on behalf of many thousands of your colleagues),
Virginia

Virginia R. Dominguez
President, American Anthropological Association

There have been inquiries as to people who are interested in providing their technical assistance to Japan, the USAID website has a variety of agencies currently seeking support for assistance in Japan.

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