Asian Journal of Environment and Disaster Management (AJEDM)

Volume 1 Number 2 (2009)

doi: 10.3850/S1793924009000194

Challenges and Opportunities of Disaster-Related Public Anthropology

Ilan Kelman1 and JC Gaillard2
Kelman, Ilan; Gaillard, JC
1Center for International Climate and Environmental Research–Oslo (CICERO), P.O. Box 1129, Blindern, Oslo, Norway, N-0318.
2University of Grenoble, France and University of the Philippines Diliman, 14 bis, Avenue Marie Reynoard 38100 Grenoble, France.


This paper examines the role played by disaster-related public anthropology in scientists serving society by accepting the public service which anthropologists and anthropology can and should provide. Here, the public service is dealing with disasters and the challenges and opportunities inherent in that role are examined. An illustrative, not comprehensive, history of disaster-related work relevant to anthropology and anthropologists is provided as background. This theory and past work are then applied for migration scenarios involving environmental phenomena, focusing on volcanism and sea-level rise. To conclude, the concepts, theory, and practice which have been explored are joined to examine the ‘without borders’ concept for anthropology and anthropologists. Four cross-cutting themes of public service with some overlap but with relative independence are proposed and briefly examined: (i) Rights and responsibilities; (ii) Root causes; (iii) Community-based approaches; and (iv) Lifelong learning and exchange.

Keywords: Migration; Public anthropology; Sea-level rise; Volcanoes; Vulnerability; Without borders; Without frontiers.

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