Ruins for the future: Critical allegory and disaster governance in post-tsunami Japan
The article 'Ruins for the future: Critical allegory and disaster governance in post-tsunami Japan' about the ruins left by Japan's 2011 tsunami by dr. Andrew Littlejohn got published in American Ethnologist (Volume 48 - Issue 1). The article is open access.
- Andrew Littlejohn
- 27 May 2021
- Full article Ruins for the future
In 2011 a tsunami over 20 meters high struck Japan's northeastern coastline. Along with causing close to 20,000 deaths, it destroyed many buildings, leaving behind a landscape of ruins. In the years since the disaster, various groups in Japan have interpreted these ruins as a way to work through “what went wrong.” Some pointed to local officials’ failure to properly prepare for the disaster, as well as the form of economic development that they had promoted. Others, however, particularly state officials, argued that the ruins of failed development reveal something that can be used to stimulate economic recovery and legitimize further development. Ironically, these groups mobilized the debris of “progress” to advance progress itself, complicating theories of recent ruins as “counter-sites.” This shows that actors can construct and leverage the truth content of ruins in support of the very ideologies and processes that caused their ruination in the first place.