Multiscalar Narratives of a Disaster: From Media Amplification to Western Participation in Asian Tsunamis
Keywords:Spectacularization, humanitarian aid, tsunami, mass media, disasters narrative.
The international recovery system responds differently to disasters with similar characteristics. It answers to specific motivations that are not necessarily connected to the nature of the disaster. The variability of the answers given not only depends on the type of disaster but also, in particular, on the local social structure and on the transcalar narrative of the disaster used to move communities not directly affected to action. This paper therefore analyses the level of Western involvement in two Asian tsunami recovery plans and the role of the media in attracting Western private donations. To this end, Italian involvement in the two cases is discussed. Beginning with a literature review to support the argument that the media are crucial in stimulating private participation through ‘spectacularizing’ the disaster, this paper illustrates that, when spectacularization is insufficient, the media additionally adopts the strategy of ‘transposition’, leading to ‘appropriation’ of the event. In particular, during the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004, the transposition became the ‘Westernization’ of the narrative of the disaster. The process of transposition or Westernization, however, did not happen with the same modalities in the narrative of the Tohoku tsunami of 2011. In this case, the focus was more on the technological disaster that followed the natural disaster. The author concludes that emotional transposition of the disasters by the media played an important role in stimulating private donations and in spurring governmental relief in both the disasters. Foreign governments, however, are mainly moved by other factors such as ‘flag policy’ or what Olsen et al. (2004) identified as the concept of ‘donor interests’.
Arunotai, Narumon (2008): ‘Saved by an old legend and a keen observation: the case of Moken sea nomads in Thailand’, R. Shaw, N. Uy & J. Bawmwoll (eds): Indigenous Knowledge for Disaster Risk Reduction: Good Practices and Lessons Learnt From the Asia-Pacific Region, Bangkok: UNISDR Asia and Pacific, 73-78.
Barnett, Julie & Glynis M. Breakwell (2001): ‘Risk perception and experience: hazard personality profiles and individual differences’, Risk Analysis, 21:1, 172-177. DOI: 10.1111/0272-4332.211099
Baumwoll, Jennifer (2008): ‘The Value of Indigenous Knowledge for Disaster Risk Reduction: A Unique Assessment Tool for Reducing Community Vulnerability to Natural Disasters’. Masters thesis, Webster University, Vienna.
Beck, Ulrich (1992): Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Beck, Ulrich (2005): 'Das Ende der Anderen', Neue Zurcher Zeitung, 14 January.
Bonati, Sara (2007): ‘Le nuove geografie delle catastrofi. Crisi ambientali e aiuti umanitari: tsunami (2004) e Katrina (2005)’, Università degli studi di Torino, Torino (unpublished thesis).
Bonati, Sara (2014): ‘Disaster or opportunity? The geography of power during the aftermaths of Katrina (2005) and Sandy (2012)’, Lina Maria Calandra, Giuseppe Forino & Andrea Porru (eds): Multiple Geographical Perspectives on Hazards and Disasters. Insights from the IV EUGEO Congress - Rome 5/7 September 2013, Rome: Valmar.
Bonati, Sara (2015): ‘Interpreting risks through the geographical identity: the importance of local perception to define global vulnerability’, Sara Bonati, et al. (eds), (Dis)memory of Disasters: A Multidisciplinary Approach. Insights from the DMDM conference, Funchal- Madeira October 2015 (in press).
Conoscenti, Michelangelo (2004), Language Engeneering and Media Management Strategies in Recent Wars, Roma: Bulzoni.
Daly, Nicholas (2011): ‘The Volcanic Disaster Narrative: From Pleasure Garden to Canvas, Page, and Stage’, Victorian Studies, 53: 2, 255-285. DOI: 10.2979/victorianstudies.53.2.255
Dansero, Egidio & Alfredo Mela (2007): ‘Olympic Territorialization’, Journal of Alpine Research, 95: 3, 16-26. DOI: 10.4000/rga.281
De Marchi, Bruna, Luigi Pellizzoni & Daniele Ungaro (2001): Il rischio ambientale, Bologna: Il Mulino.
Delage R (2003) Beyond territory: the process of geographical identification in the context of a south indian pilgrimage. Kolkata: Association Jeunes Etudes Indiennes, Ateliers Jeunes Cher-cheurs en Sciences Sociales.
Denzin, Norman K. (1989): Interpretive Biography, Newbury Park, CA: Sage. DOI: 10.4135/9781412984584
Dilley, Maxx, et al. (2005): Natural Disaster Hotspots: A Global Risk Analysis. Washington, DC: World Bank. DOI: 10.1596/0-8213-5930-4
McNeil Jr., Donald G. (2005): 'Hearts, Minds and Flood Relief', New York Times, January 9, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/09/weekinreview/09mcne.html?page-wanted=print&position=
Ellingson, Ter (2001): The Myth of the Noble Savage, Berkeley: University of California.
Finucane, Melissa L., Ali Alhakami, Paul Slovic & Stephen M. Johnson (2000): ‘The Affect Heuristic in Judgements of Risk and Benefits’, Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 13, 1-17. DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1099-0771(200001/03)13:1<1::AID-BDM333>3.0.CO;2-S
Fritz, Charles (1952): ‘The Social Psychology of Disaster: Some Theoretical Notes and Suggested Problems for Research’, unpublished paper.
Gaillard, Jean-Christophe, et al. (2008): ‘Ethnic groups’ response to the 26 December 2004 earth-quake and tsunami in Aceh, Indonesia’, Natural Hazards, 47, 17–38. DOI: 10.1007/s11069-007-9193-3
Hagen, Carol A., et al. (1999): ‘Graffiti on the Great Plains: A Social Reaction to the Red River Valley Flood of 1997’, Applied Behavioral Science Review, 7: 2, 145-158. DOI: 10.1016/S1068-8595(00)80015-X
Harvey, David (2005): ‘Katrina: Ideology Over People’, Thinkprogress.org, September 15, available at www.americanprogressaction.org.
Kasperson, Roger E., et al. (1988): ‘The Social Amplification of Risk: A Conceptual Framework’, Risk Analysis, 8:2, 177-187. DOI: 10.1111/j.1539-6924.1988.tb01168.x
Kelman, Ilan (2007): ‘Natural Hazards or Human Interpretation?’, RiskPost: The Newsletter of the New Zealand Society for Risk Management, 7: 2 (July/August), 5-6, available at http://www.ilan-kelman.org/publications.html
Keys, Angela, Helen Masterman-Smith & Drew Cottle (2006): ‘The Political Economy of a Natural Disaster: The Boxing Day Tsunami, 2004’, Antipode, 195-204. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8330.2006.0575a.x
Lewis, James & Ilan Kelman (2012): ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Versus Disaster Risk Creation (DRC)’, PLoS Currents Disasters, 21 June 2012, available at http://currents.plos.org/disasters/article/the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly-disaster-risk-reduc-tion-drr-versus-disaster-risk-creation-drc/
Mercer, Jessica, Ilan Kelman, and Julie Dekens (2009): ‘Integrating Indigenous and Scientific Knowledge for Disaster Risk Reduction’, Rajib Shaw, Anshu Sharma, and Yukiko Takeuchi (eds.): Indigenous Knowledge and Disaster Risk Reduction: From Practice to Policy, New York: Nova Publishers, 115-131.
Mercer, Jessica, et al. (2012): ‘Culture and Disaster Risk Reduction: Lessons and Opportunities’, Environmental Hazards, 11, 74-95. DOI: 10.1080/17477891.2011.609876
Mileti, Dennis S. & Colleen Fitzpatrick (1992): ‘The Causal Sequence of Risk Communication in the Parkfield Earthquake Prediction Experiment’, Risk Analysis, 12: 3, 393–400. DOI: 10.1111/j.1539-6924.1992.tb00691.x
Murdock, Graham, Judith Perts & Tom Horlick-Jones (2003): ‘After Amplification: Rethinking the Role of the Media in Risk Communication’, Nick Pidgeon, Roger E. Kasperson & Paul Slovic (eds): The Social Amplification of Risk, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 156-178. DOI: 10.1017/cbo9780511550461.008
Olsen, Gorm Rye, Nils Carstensen & Kristian Høyen (2003): ‘Humanitarian Crises: What Determines the Level of Emergency Assistance? Media Coverage, Donor Interests and the Aid Busi-ness’, Disasters, 27:2, 109-126. DOI: 10.1111/1467-7717.00223
Peters, Ellen M., Burt Burraston & C. K. Mertz (2004): ‘An Emotion-Based Model of Risk Percep-tion and Stigma Susceptibility: Cognitive Appraisals of Emotion, Affective Reactivity, Worldviews, and Risk Perceptions in the Generation of Technological Stigma’, Risk Analysis, 24:5, 1349-1367. DOI: 10.1111/j.0272-4332.2004.00531.x
Prince, Melvin & Mark Alexander Phillip Davis (2007): ‘Natural Environment Disaster Survival Experiences: Narrative Research From Two Communities’, The Australasian Journal of Disaster and Trauma Studies, 2, available at http://www.massey.ac.nz/~trauma/issues/2007-2/prince.htm
Quarantelli, Enrico L. (1985): ‘Realities and Mythologies in Disaster Films’, Communications, 11:3, 1-44. DOI: 10.1515/comm.1918.104.22.168
Richardson, Brad, John R. Sorensen, & E. Jon Soderstrom (1987): ‘Explaining the Social and Psychological Impacts of a Nuclear Power Plant Accident’, Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 17, 16-36. DOI: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.1987.tb00290.x
Roberts, John (2005): ‘Thai Government Puts Tourism Ahead of the Poor in Tsunami Relief Effort’, World Socialist Web Site, January 17, available at http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2005/01/thai-j17.html
Robinson, Piers (1999): ‘The CNN Effect: Can the News Media Drive Foreign Policy?’, Review of International Studies, 25:2, 301-309. DOI: 10.1017/S0260210599003010
Roche, Maurice (2000): Mega Event and Modernity, London: Routledge.
Rosenblatt, Lionel (1996): 'The Media and the Refugee', Robert I. Rothberg and Thomas G. Weiss (eds): From Massacres To Genocide. The Media, Public Policy And Humanitarian Crises,Washington: The Bookings Institutions, 136-146.
Saltman, Kenneth J. (2007): ‘Schooling in Disaster Capitalism: How The Political Right Is Using Disaster To Privatize Public Schooling’, Teacher Education Quarterly (spring 2007), 131-156.
Scanlon, Christopher Bernard (2005): ‘When the Din of Self-Congratulation Fades’, Arena Magazine, 75, 2-3.
Tekeli-Yesil, Sidika, et al. (2011): ‘Earthquake Awareness And Perception Of Risk Among The Residents Of Istanbul’, Natural Hazards, 59, 427-446. DOI: 10.1007/s11069-011-9764-1
Strömberg, David (2007): ‘Natural Disasters, Economic Development, and Humanitarian Aid’, Journal of Economic Perspectives, 21:3, 199-222. DOI: 10.1257/jep.21.3.199
Veijola, Soile & Eeva Jokinen (1994): ‘The Body in Tourism’, Theory Culture & Society, 11: 125-51. DOI: 10.1177/026327694011003006
Webb, Gary R., Tricia Wachtendorf & Ana Eyre (2000): ‘Bringing Culture Back In: Exploring the Cultural Dimensions of Disaster’, International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters, 18:1, 5-19.
Wertsch, James V. (1998): Mind as Action. New York: Oxford University Press.
Copyright (c) 2015 Bonati
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.
Copyright for all manuscripts rests with the author(s). The editors reserve the right to edit manuscripts. Contributors are responsible for acquiring all permissions from the copyright owners for the use of quotations, illustrations, tables, etc. Each author must, before final publication fill, in a publishing agreement provided by LiU E-Press.
Since 2021 Culture Unbound uses a Creative Commons: Attribution license for new articles, which allows users to distribute the work and to reform or build upon it without the author's permission. Full reference to the author must be given. For older articles please see each article landing page.