Ming-Cheng Lo has received a UC Pacific Rim Research Grant for her project, "The Day After: Civic Engagement and Identity Reconstruction in Response to Natural Disasters in Taiwan and Japan."
"Many geographic areas in the Pacific Rim are vulnerable to devastating natural disasters. Furthermore, common challenges often confront the governments, NGOs, and local communities as they attempt post-disaster reconstruction: Many countries in the Pacific Rim have over-developed lands susceptible to natural disasters; Many are latecomers to capitalism whose government policies aggressively prioritize economic development over environmental concerns; Certain rural populations within the region are both the most vulnerable to natural disasters and the least capable of voicing their opinions. Under these circumstances, how can the afflicted communities consolidate and pursue their visions for long-term recovery? Informed by the sociological literature on civic engagement and interdisciplinary scholarships on identity reconstruction, we address this issue through two specific research questions. First, how do different types of civic engagement shape the debates and outcomes of community reconstruction? Second, how do survivors draw upon local cultural repertoires, while also create new rituals, symbols, or narratives, to make sense of their sufferings and articulate their subjectivities? We propose to conduct comparative ethnographic research in Taiwan and Japan, in the areas afflicted by Typhoon Morakot and the 3.11 earthquake-tsunami, respectively. Our findings will potentially contribute to both academic debates and policy discussions about post-disaster processes."