Disaster, shock and amnesia in Gujarat, India – University of Copenhagen

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Disaster, shock and amnesia in Gujarat, India

Seminar with Professor Edward Simpson. We will discuss how disasters are remembered (from statistics to monuments), what is remembered, what is forgotten, by whom, why and with which consequences.

Time: Thursday, September 22 from 13:00 – 15:30

Place: COPE, University of Copenhagen (CSS Campus), Øster Farimagsgade 5, Building 24, 2nd floor, 1353 Copenhagen K 

An earthquake took place in Gujarat, India, in 2001. On that morning, the plates of a geological fault slipped somewhere deep in the earth causing the ground to convulse and contort. These movements caused widespread, but highly irregular, patterns of damage to property and life. Hundreds of villages were flattened to varying degrees, badly built tower blocks collapsed in the faraway city of Ahmedabad. I had conducted research in the region before the earthquake. Initially, my concern was with the plight of my friends. I was however quickly absorbed by the politics of ​reconstruction and the aftermath. For the ensuing decade, I followed events and returned annually for periods of fieldwork (and wrote a book published in 2013/14). In this talk, I look back on that research to provide an overview of the main contours, phases and convulsions within the ‘memory politics’ of the region. I also revisit some of my previous ideas about the consequences of 'not remembering'. All participants will be asked to participate in a small exercise relating to their own research projects.

Edward Simpson is a professor at SOAS, University of London. Between 2001 and 2012, he conducted research on the aftershocks or consequences of the Gujarat earthquake. Among other works, he is the author of The political biography of an earthquake: Aftermath and amnesia in Gujarat, India. You will find the introduction attached, as well as the article “Remembering natural disaster: Politics and culture of memorials in Gujarat and Sri Lanka” (2008).

Simpson is chair at the Centre for Ethnographic theory, which also publishes the Journal for Ethnographic Theory, HAU.

Semester program fall 2016

  • 19-20 August: Endangered Selves and Societies: Theologies of Tragedies and Disasters, Faculty of Theology (Aud 11), responsible: TEO
  • 25 August 14-1530: Semester start-up meeting, COPE, responsible: KCL
  • 16 September 14-16: Professor Terry Cannon, Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at University of Sussex: Three myths in our dealings with disasters, climate change and development, COPE, University of Copenhagen (CSS Campus), Øster Farimagsgade 5, Building 24, 2nd floor, 1353 Copenhagen K  responsible: Emmanuel
  • 22 September: Professor Edward Simpson: Disaster, shock and amnesia in Gujarat, India, COPE, University of Copenhagen (CSS Campus), Øster Farimagsgade 5, Building 24, 2nd floor, 1353 Copenhagen K . responsible: ANTRO
  • 15 November: Associate Professor Christine Hagar: Crisis Information Management, COPE, University of Copenhagen (CSS Campus), Øster Farimagsgade 5, Building 24, 2nd floor , 1353 Copenhagen K. responsible: KCL
  • 17 November: Senior Research Fellow Tom Grant: Presentation of the Cambridge’ new Future of Intelligence project, COPE, University of Copenhagen (CSS Campus), Øster Farimagsgade 5, Building 24, 2nd floor, 1353 Copenhagen K  responsible: KCL
  • 25 November 13-15: Birgitte Refslund Sørensen, Morten Vendelø Thanning, Rasmus Dahlberg & Kristian Cedervall Lauta: Cold Disasters: A report from the Arctic Theater, COPE, University of Copenhagen (CSS Campus), Øster Farimagsgade 5, Building 24, 2nd floor, 1353 Copenhagen K 

Everyone is welcome, registration not necessary.