A cultural approach to recovery assistance followi...

Using the Kobe earthquake of 1995 and the Mid-Java earthquake of 2006 as case studies, this paper discusses the process of providing cultural recovery assistance; it also analyses the term ‘civil society’, a term that reflects efforts to make assistance activities sustainable. The Kobe earthquake should be seen as a point of departure for citizen activism by volunteers; because of it, cultural recovery support was vigorously provided. Since people influenced by those support efforts later became involved in providing Mid-Java earthquake recovery assistance, both earthquake recovery support initiatives can be seen as part of an ongoing chain of events. In analysing the Kobe earthquake, it becomes clear that while there are many semantic meanings for and usages of the term ‘civil society’, it was incorporated into policy guidelines for recovery during a period of low economic growth, and a new civil society was envisioned in this period of social transformation. Organisations participating in assistance efforts following the Mid-Java earthquake sought to make ‘civil society’ a reality; this continued after the earthquake recovery was complete, and it comprised an attempt to build the connections within a civil society by looking to overcome many persistent social problems. The power of communication that ‘culture’ holds plays a large role in this.

Authors: Shin Nakagawa and Koichi Suwa