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Title: A safer Sri Lanka? : technology, security and preparedness in post-tsunami Sri Lanka
Authors: Choi, Vivian
Issue Date: 2008
Publisher: Dept. of Anthropology, University of California, Davis, CA, US
Abstract: This article focuses on the use of new technologies in Sri Lanka after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami in concert with recent shifts in the rationale of disaster management practices. This shift views disasters, both natural and human-made, as inevitable risks of everyday life to be mitigated by preparedness practices. This preparedness rationale has increasingly shifted disaster management towards disaster risk management. Technologies figure in disaster risk management as mechanisms to know more about disaster risks and their impacts. The more knowledge gathered on risks, the better they can be managed, ideally generating a continual state of preparedness, and in the case of Sri Lanka, a sense of national security and a government that appears to care for the safety of its people. In this article, I discuss several technologies new to Sri Lanka’s disaster risk management practices. First, I explore Geographic Information Systems (GIS), which has gained global currency in disaster management efforts and the creation of an early warning system in Sri Lanka. I study technologies such as GIS as mechanisms that follow the unfolding complexities of the post-tsunami context in Sri Lanka, lending to ethnographic work attuned to the politics of disaster risk management and national security. Rather than dismiss technology as an objective and rational tool of management, I illustrate how the push to acquire more information and knowledge about disasters constitute new technological governmental and humanitarian practices. Then, by way of ethnographic example, I show how institutional and “rational” preparedness practices unfold in one of the most devastated areas of the eastern coast of Sri Lanka during a tsunami scare in September 2007. I conclude by raising questions regarding the relationship between security, the on-going conflict in Sri Lanka, and post-tsunami reconstruction.
Description: Also published in “Tsunami in a time of war: aid, activism & reconstruction in Sri Lanka and Aceh,” de Alwis, Malathi and Hedman, Eva-Lotta E., eds. (2009)
Project Number: 103604
Project Title: Post Tsunami Reconstruction in the Context of War
Document Delivery: To enquire about document delivery, contact the IDRC Library : or 613-696-2578 / Pour plus de renseignements sur la livraison de documents, communiquer avec la bibliothèque du CRDI : ou 613-696-2578
Appears in Collections:Research Results (PCD) / Résultats de recherches (PCD)
South Asia / Asie du Sud
IDRC Research Results / Résultats de recherches du CRDI
2000-2009 / Années 2000-2009

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