Aspired Communities, Contested Futures: Long-Term Recovery after the 3.11 Disaster in Japan


On March 11, 2011, a 9.1 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of northeastern Japan triggering a massive tsunami and shifting the earth on its axis. Nearly 20,000 residents in the Tōhoku region lost their lives, with many hundreds of thousands more injured, displaced, and left with horrific loss. Dr. Pilvi Posio shares her PhD research based on eight months of fieldwork in the town of Yamamoto in Miyagi prefecture, where 635 residents lost their lives. She began her research on long-term community recovery four years after the disaster, when national focus was shifting from recovery and restoration (fukkyū 復旧) to reconstruction (fukkō 復興 ). Learn how large-scale, government-funded initiatives, including the construction of three new compact cities away from the immediate coastal area, had the unintended effect of causing "reconstruction disaster” by aggravating resident anxieties and accelerating depopulation. In presenting her concept of Aspired Communities, Dr. Posio argues that community is best viewed not as a static, territorially-bound identity, but as a dynamic process, one which is continually constituted from a future-oriented outlook of collective aspiration.

Pilvi Posio is a senior researcher at the Centre for East Asian Studies at the University of Turku, Finland, and is currently working on sustainability issues in Asia. Her dissertation can be found here.

Satoko Naito received her PhD in Japanese literature from Columbia University and teaches as a docent at CEAS.

The Nordic Asia Podcast is a collaboration sharing expertise on Asia across the Nordic region, brought to you by the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS) based at the University of Copenhagen, along with our academic partners: the Centre for East Asian Studies at the University of Turku, and Asianettverket at the University of Oslo.

We aim to produce timely, topical and well-edited discussions of new research and developments about Asia.

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Satoko Naito

Satoko Naito is a docent of Japanese studies at the Centre for East Asian Studies, University of Turku, Finland. Research interests include Japanese literature, cultural history, and gender studies.

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