Sources of Disaster

Di16Mär12:30Di14:00Sources of DisasterNew Epistemic Perspectives in Post-3.11 JapanVeranstaltungsartRoundtable


How do or should the triple disasters of 2011 in Tōhoku Japan serve as a “lesson” for future generations? In commemoration of the tenth anniversary of March 11, 2011, this roundtable panel discussion explores the entwined actions of teaching, research, and remembering the compound disaster: a magnitude 9 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear power plant explosion. This virtual panel brings together researchers from history and anthropology to discuss key historical and contemporary sources that prove critical for students (secondary school and higher) to study as they look back upon the disasters’ epistemic legacy.

What functions as a “source” varies with the particular relationships that individuals and groups have with knowledge. By recognizing how knowledge functions among communities of disaster survivors, NPO-workers, environmental advocates, and believers, in addition to technical experts, we pay attention to how knowledge is generated, preserved, owned, translated, used, or ignored in the process of recovery. These bearers and consumers of knowledge also face or accept, to different degrees, the challenges of countering eroding memories of the triple disasters, or willful disinterest in engaging with the recent past. The residues of scholarly work additionally raise lingering questions about the responsibilities that scholars have to the communities with whom they interact.

This panel highlights feminist and religious studies perspectives alongside those from the historical and social studies of science, technology, medicine, and environment, in order to recognize and appreciate the voices of persons whose lives in and around Japan have been informed by the triple disasters. The discussion will feature scholars whose research and careers have been shaped by the Tōhoku disasters at different moments during their careers, including scholars who specialize or model methodological teaching. We hope this roundtable discussion will help elevate historical empathy about the disasters and serve as a first step toward outlining a strategy to develop a multi-perspective sourcebook that respects the lived experiences of the disasters.


  • Julia Mariko Jacoby (Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg)
  • Juraku Kohta (Tokyo Denki University)
  • David Slater (Sophia University) & Anna Wiemann (Ludwig-Maximilians Universität Munich)
  • Levi McLaughlin (North Carolina State University)

The​ Teach311 + COVID-19 Collective​ began in 2011 as a joint project of the ​Forum for the History of Science in Asia​ and the ​Society for the History of Technology Asia Network​ and is currently expanded in collaboration with the ​Max Planck Institute for the History of Science ​(Artifacts, Action, Knowledge)​ and​ Nanyang Technological University-Singapore​. Members of the Collective include educators, researchers, artists, students, and survivors representing a wide range of countries, languages, and disciplines. Together, we focus on understanding disasters, past and unfolding, through communication and empathy. For more information, please visit ​​.Organizer(s)

Contact and Registration

Everybody is welcome to attend! Please register via the following LINK. For further information, please contact LISA ONAGA.

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16. März 2021 12:30 - 14:00(GMT+02:00)

Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte

Boltzmannstraße 22, 14195 Berlin

Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte