10 Mar 2005 All day CRASSH


CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge, CB2 1RX

Conversations @ CRASSH are designed to explore the nature of conversation by having a conversation and by probing the idea of conversation itself.

    Tsunami Histories: Paradise Islands and Environment Management in the the Indian Ocean
Part of Beyond Imperial Centre and Colonial Periphery: Reconnecting the Global and the Local conference

The 2004 tsunami was experienced as both a global and a local event, with the devastation covering thousands of miles and with media coverage saturating the globe. Recovering from it continues to require consideration of how it is remembered in both spatial contexts; before global tourists can rediscover the idea of paradise islands, local fishing communities have had to regain their trust in the sea as provider. Such environmental understandings carry as much cultural as geographical import, and the long history of tsunamis in the region is punctuated with intellectual tidal waves, reshaping memories of the environmental past and perceptions of nature. Now that the flood has receded, how will this event shape understandings of the ocean in the future?

As part of the CRASSH conversations series, this panel explores conversations about Indian Ocean tsunamis across temporal and cultural space. Sujit Sivasundaram considers Sri Lankan Buddhist chronicles of inundation from the sea, and the reception of the chronicles by both ninenteenth century orientalists and our modern press. He argues that these discussions remind us that events like the recent tsunami quickly come to act as moral fables in history. Emma Reisz focuses on the history of tsunamis in the Andamans and Nicobars to examine how the environmental knowledge of indigenous groups has been discounted within both colonial and contemporary contexts, in favour of flawed technologies of environmental control. Walter Bruchausen, a doctor and medical anthropologist, has recently returned from relief work in Aceh. He outlines the health care response and the attempts at social rebuilding in northern Sumatra, exploring the global perception of local needs, and the effect of the tsunami on the medical and psychological geography of the coastline.


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