Colloquium, talk look at tsunami-ravaged area’s future


The York community is invited to a special colloquium titled “In the Wake of the Tsunami” on Wednesday, Jan. 19, featuring York faculty members and guest speakers who have worked in the affected areas. Among them will be Rudhramoorthy Cheran, right, professor in the Department of Sociology’s Centre for Refugee Studies, who survived the disaster while visiting his native Sri Lanka. The colloquium will be held in Room 140, HNES Building from 2:30 to 4:30pm.

The colloquium will feature panellists who have done research in each of the four areas most affected by the disaster. Topics addressed will include:

  • how coastal zone developments in Asia may have increased the scale of the disaster;
  • how these socio-natural processes are linked to broader regional and North-South relationships;
  • how regional politics are shaping relief and reconstruction efforts;
  • how different approaches to relief and reconstruction may impact coastal communities and landscapes.

Panellist presenters include Craig Johnson from the Department of Political Science at the University of Guelph, whose talk is titled “Courting Disaster: Coastal Development in Southern Thailand.” Martin Bunch, professor in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, will talk about his experiences working in Chennai, India. (See story in Jan. 10 issue of YFile.) Bunch’s presentation is titled, “In the Path of the Wave: Impact on 2 vulnerable communities in Chennai, India.” Judith Nagata, professor in York’s Department of Anthropology, will present “A New Meaning for Geo-Politics: When the Forces of Nature and Politics Collide in Aceh, Indonesia.” Cheran, who spoke at the recent tsunami memorial service at York (see story in Jan. 7 issue of YFile) will give a presentation titled “Post-Tsunami Recovery in Sri Lanka: Questions, Concerns and Reflections.”

The discussant for this event will be FES Professor Harris Ali and the moderator will be Peter Vandergeest, director of the York Centre for Asian Research. The colloquium is sponsored by the YCAR, FES and the University Consortium on the Global South.

For more information on tsunami relief efforts at York and links to aid agencies accepting donations, see the Jan. 4 issue of YFile.

Tsunami science

Just what is a tsunami, why does it behave so destructively and what can we do about it? The Faculty of Science & Engineering will hold an information session on those very questions on Wednesday before the colloquium, from 1 to 2:15pm in Room 142, HNES Building. Professors Anthony Szeto and Keith Aldridge of the Department of Earth & Space Science, will explain how an earthquake triggers a tsunami and why what starts as a modest-sized ocean wave becomes so dangerous when it lands ashore. The pair will also discuss what observations might enable the detection of a tsunami in transit, since future disasters of this magnitude are almost certain.