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Call for papers: Invisible Reconstruction – Cross disciplinary responses to disaster and approaches to sustainable resilience

Deadline for papers: 20 June 2021

Invisible Reconstruction – Cross disciplinary responses to disaster and approaches to sustainable resilience

1 September 2021, DMUCH Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto.

This international and interdisciplinary conference, to be held online in the 10th anniversary year of the Great East
Japan Earthquake and on the anniversary of the Kanto earthquake of 1 September 1923, will focus on approaches
to preparedness and prevention, and on the invisible, intangible processes of societal mending required following
man-made, natural and biological disaster.

Physical reconstruction alone can be superficial and risks creating fragile, brittle and insecure societies and the
conference seeks responses to disaster that promote societal mending and psychological wellbeing. In a hyper-
connected and always-on world, solutions rooted in localisation, reduced transport and the rediscovery of
traditional skills and culture can provide security and resilience but risk creating protectionism and isolation.
Conversely global travel and social mobility create opportunities for psychological support and economic recovery
but risk disaster tourism and reinforcing existing vulnerabilities.

Public space is vital to the creation of safe, sustainable communities, and essential for providing refuge and
release in emergency. The conference will promote the role of public spaces and place-making in societal
mending, building resilience and stimulating the consolidation of localised cities.

In the context of the COVID-19 emergency, the conference will examine the impact on societies of remote
collaboration, home-working and distance learning and question whether communications technologies provide
solutions and opportunities or exacerbate isolation and vulnerability. Looking at societies where the pandemic has
superimposed a further crisis on a pre-existing state of emergency, the conference will look at how experiences of
catastrophe can provide insights to build sustainable, resilient societies.

Invisible Reconstruction seeks the exchange of global knowledge and experiences to change current thinking on
disaster preparedness and recovery and promote best practices that understand the lasting benefit of reinforcing
and repairing the intangible threads that create societies.

Natural, biological and man-made disasters disproportionately impact the marginalised and economically
underprivileged, from children and the elderly, to the physically impaired, placing increased burdens on women
and further impacting refugees and migrants. These categories have paid the highest price as a consequence of
COVID-19 and the pandemic has exposed underlying fragilities and the inequality of access to technology, to
shared resources and to open space.
• How can disaster responses avoid compounding pre-existing vulnerabilities?
• How can public space reduce social inequality and create places of safety, refuge and release?
• How can societies improve access to technology for the most vulnerable and what lessons can be learned from the

Education and Schools
Schools, universities and museums are key to community cohesion and societal resilience, yet their importance is
often forgotten in disaster response. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed fragilities at the different stages of the
educational process, further highlighting those of the educators themselves and the importance of maintaining
physical contact to preserve psychological well being.
• As adaptable, polyvalent public spaces of participation and refuge, how can schools protect from disaster, provide
safety and promote recovery?
• What is the role of education in promoting resilience and social cohesion in communities at risk?
• In a rapidly changing world, how can cultural educators such as schools, universities and museums support life-long-learning and adaptation?

Participation and Engagement
A core aspect of the conference will be the role of communication in raising risk-awareness, planning for disaster
response, promoting post-disaster public engagement and in ensuring institutional transparency. Communication
is key to individual mental wellbeing as well as to the long-term success of social reconstruction.
• Can social media support societies impacted by disaster, reinforcing and extending the sense of community and
reconnecting fractured social bonds?
• How can information technology empower communities to participate in processes of recovery?
• Are ground-up initiatives the key to sustainable, resilient recovery and preparedness?
• How can remote participation support in-loco initiatives and how can global engagement promote local recovery

Art, Culture and Intangible Heritage
Art and culture provide a sense of identity, bring social cohesion and can be a focus for participation, engagement
and sustained recovery. Conversely war and natural disaster provide the ideal conditions for looting and the loss of
cultural heritage. The loss of physical access to art and culture during the COVID-19 emergency is exacerbated by
the collapse of the cultural economy.
• How can the cultural sector recover from disaster and what is its role in stimulating economic recovery?
• How can digitisation and information technologies promote and protect cultural heritage, maintain access to culture
and support artists following disaster?
• How can communities affected by disaster re-engage tourists without being subsumed by disaster tourism?
• Does the rediscovery of intangible culinary and agricultural traditions and of craft processes provide a basis for
unique experiences, sustainable tourism and for global-facing localised communities?

• We invite submission of abstracts limited to 1000 words identifying the applicable session and theme
• Each presentation slot will have a maximum duration of 8 minutes
• Abstracts and presentations to be in English
• Collected abstracts will be published online prior to the conference
• The conference will be held online with an in-presence element; the final programme and conference link will be published in the
last week of August
• Contact

Important dates
• Call for 1000 word abstract 20 June 2021
• Acceptance 30 June 2021
• Submission of video presentations 30 July 2021