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Saturday, September 23, 2023

Academics & Research

Talk discusses empathy and disasters

Ethnographers and folklorists from Japan and northern Ohio came to UH on Monday for a special presentation on the scale and regularity of natural disasters and how to efficiently react to victim’s needs.

The discussion was part of the Center for Public History’s El Paso lecture series honoring the Medical Anthropology program.

The event was held from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Honors College Commons of the M.D Anderson Memorial Library and was co-hosted by the English and Comparative Cultural Studies departments, as well as the Center for Public History, the Honors College and the Asian American Studies Center.

Amy Shuman, who teaches English and Anthropology at Ohio State University, Taniguchi of Senshu University and Koji Kato of Tohoku Gakuin University served on the discussion panel.

Shuman spoke about the aspects of empathy that help survivors cope and the power it has to heal when combined with narrative. Shuman went on to describe empathy as aesthetic sympathy.

Yoko Taniguchi of “Empathy shows us we are all fundamentally the same,” and Kato referenced the earthquake and tsunami that recently struck Japan and talked about the use of ethnography to meet survivors’ short- and long-term recovery necessities.

“There is nothing that requires empathy more than human suffering,” Shuman said.

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