Documenting ‘invisible’ disaster damage
Nepal, the home of Mount Everest, is a poor, landlocked, mountainous nation that relies heavily on remittances from citizens who work abroad. Its economy also depends on tourism, especially in the Kathmandu Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The April 2015 Nepal earthquakes caused massive damage. Aid organizations responded to flattened villages, medical emergencies, and food and water shortages. But the 7.8 magnitude quake and aftershocks also traumatized and disrupted the country's cultures and communities. These elements are harder to see, but play an important role in disaster recovery. Nepal's government and international aid agencies are working to recover after the physical damage, but the diverse languages of Nepal -- especially the minority and endangered ones -- may not all survive that process. A team of linguists and anthropologists is collaborating with local researchers in three mountain districts in central Nepal to see how people from these areas understood the earthquakes, how they're rebuilding and how they relate to the lingering threat of extreme environmental disasters.
Image credit: Kristine Hildebrandt, Department of English Language & Literature, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville; Sienna Craig, Department of Anthropology, Dartmouth College; Geoff Childs, Department of Anthropology, Washington University St Louis; Mark Donohue, College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University