Society for Economic Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
Tornadoes destroy lives, and survivors have the daunting task of trying to move beyond the destruction and rebuild physically, emotionally, psychologically, socially, and economically. The purpose of this study is to learn from the lived experiences of three women who survived the Joplin tornado of 2011. What does it mean to be a survivor of such a disaster? What strategies and coping mechanisms did these survivors employ in their reconstruction and rebuilding process to find “home” again?
This study employs Photo Voice/photo elicitation along with writing prompts and personal interviews to evoke sharing of experiences. It identifies common themes across narratives to gain a better understanding of the challenges women face during disaster, as well as what coping mechanisms they may have used and more importantly, what they did to regain their sense of “home.”
Drawing upon the frameworks of memory, place and space and identity, this inquiry interrogates one’s sense of (dis)place(ment) in what is and becomes “home.” The majority of disaster studies focus on disaster and displacement outside the US, documenting migration and refugee issues. However, few studies have recorded US disaster recovery, specifically with an in-depth, anthropological focus on human meaning making following natural disaster. Findings suggest that women tornado survivors suffer some of the same challenges associated with place and space, loss, and identity, however they follow their own unique path to recovery.