As Hurricane Maria was wreaking havoc on Puerto Rico at the same time that major earthquakes left millions in central and southern Mexico without a home, it was nearly impossible to escape the breaking news. Four months later, headlines from Puerto Rico and Mexico have been pushed to the back of the news cycle. But there is a need to reflect on the long term consequences of natural disasters such as these, beyond merely assessing the material damage they caused.
The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the Indiana University School of Global and International Studies is taking this long view in a program it is presenting in collaboration with the De Pueblo a Pueblo fundraising initiative. “After the Disaster: Long-Term Outlooks for Mexico and Puerto Rico” takes place Wednesday January 24.
What are the long-term strategies for rebuilding and development that succeeded in the wake of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, or after Hurricane Katrina, in 2005? How have disasters contributed to reshaping the relationship between governments and local communities? What is the role of public conversation in the regions and communities affected by natural disasters?
These inquires and others prompted by current situations in Mexico and Puerto Rico will launch the discussion, featuring an interdisciplinary panel of IU scholars. With opening remarks from John Nieto-Phillips, Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion, CLACS director Anke Birkenmaier will moderate the roundtable. Additional considerations may include what is “natural” and what is “human” or “social” about these events and their consequences. Scholars will look beyond the immediate destruction to examine the large-scale effects of natural disasters on the collective well-being of communities, and especially vulnerable populations such as the disabled, the elderly, and children.
These natural disasters marked a change in the ways in which people rely – or don’t rely — on state support. Community engagement and personal fundraising have been the major factors in rebuilding Puerto Rico and Mexico. The roundtable will spotlight grassroots relief efforts that have played an increasingly significant role in rebuilding these devastated communities, including the De Pueblo a Pueblo fund drive, an initiative spearheaded by members of the IU community.
“After the Disaster: Long-Term Outlooks for Mexico and Puerto Rico” will bring together Chancellor’s Professor of Anthropology Anya Peterson Royce, Associate Professor of History Arlene Diaz, School of Education Associate Professor of Literacy, Culture, and Language Carmen Medina, Professor of Geological Sciences, Geophysics, Seismology, and Tectonics Michael Hamburger, and School of Education student and artist Javier Cardona Otero.
The roundtable will take place in the Global and International Studies Building Auditorium (GA 0001), Wednesday, January 24 at 4:00pm. For more information about the De Pueblo a Pueblo fund drive, please see http://depuebloapueblo.com/en_US/about/ .