Japan and 3/11: Memory in Formation

December 6, 2013 • 10AM-1PM

Columbia University, International Affairs Building, Room 918

Reflections from Fukushima: From History to Memory and Back Again

  • Harry Harootunian, History, Columbia University

Digital Media and Crowd-Sourcing Memory: The Japan Digital Archives for the Disasters of 2011

  • Theodore C. Bestor, Anthropology, Harvard University
  • Discussant: Mona El-Ghobashy, Political Science, Barnard College
  • Discussant: William Hirst, Psychology, The New School

What impact did the disasters of 3/11–the earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster–have on Japanese memory?

Theodore C. Bestor, a specialist on contemporary Japanese culture and society, presented the Digital Archive of Japan’s 2011 Disasters, an online portal containing a wealth of digital documents about the 3/11 disasters at Harvard University. This project, “a site of shared memory of those most directly affected” by the disasters, allows individual users to add materials, interact, and curate their own collections.

A historian of modern Japan, Harry Harootunian‘s work has included explorations of interwar Japan, and social and cultural life following the recession of the 1990s. His presentation will focus on his reflections from Fukushima, particularly the tensions between the Japanese state’s effort to shape the post-disaster narrative, and the population’s formation of its own individualized narratives.

Mona El-Ghobashy, an expert on Egyptian political movements, and William Hirst, who conducted a longitudinal psychological study on memory of 9/11, discussed.


About the Politics of Memory in Global Context

Bringing together scholars of memory from the social sciences and humanities, cognitive science and neuroscience, and curators of historical and memorial museums to examine the politics and cultures of memory.

Politics of Memory in Global Context bannerThe Politics of Memory in Global Context is a Franco-American collaborative project that brings together scholars in the social sciences and humanities who work on collective or public memory; cognitive scientists, psychologists, and neuroscientists who work on individual memory; and curators of historical and memorial museums who present the past to the public.  The main museum partners are the Mémorial de Caen, the national World War II museum in France, and the National September 11 Memorial Museum in New York.

Led by Professor Carol Gluck at Columbia, the project combines diverse disciplinary approaches and insists on considering its topics comparatively in global context in order to discern commonalities among them,  develop new analytic perspectives on the formation and operation of public memory, and  suggest policies for better political management of divisive memories within and between countries.

Learn more about the Politics of Memory in Global Context.