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Collective Memory and Disaster

In this project we observe processes of collective memorialization of the Tōhoku earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown in 2011 and their aftermath. We do so in particular from the perspective of social memory studies, focusing on how various social groups in Japan remember different aspects of the 2011 disasters, how this results in social perceptions and behavior, and how this influences political participation.
One part of this project is the integration of research into teaching by offering a graduate class in which we analyze original interview data from the ‘Tōhoku kara no koe/Voices from Tōhoku’-archive launched and administered by David Slater.

Principle Researcher: Anna Wiemann
Collaborator: David Slater (Sophia University, Tokyo)

Grants: The international conference within this project received funding by the Fritz-Thyssen-Stiftung and Universität Zürich.



• Wiemann, A. (2018): Networks and Mobilization Processes: The Case of the Japanese Anti-Nuclear Movement after Fukushima. München: Iudicium.

Journal papers and book chapters:

  • Wiemann, A. and K. Sahin (2021, forthcoming): Betroffenenbewegungen und das Recht: ‚Heimatverlust‘ als Schaden in der Nariwai-Sammelklage gegen TEPCO und den Staat. In: Chiavacci, D. and I. Wieczorek (eds.) Japan 2021. Politik, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft. München: Iudicium.
  • Wiemann, A. (2019): Making Memory by Dissociating the Past from the Present: Narratives of Movement Intellectuals of the Post-Fukushima Protest Cycle in Japan. In: International Quarterly for Asian Studies 50, pp. 157-170.
  • Wiemann, A. (2016): From Disaster to Opportunity: The Role of Civic Organizations in Movement Mobilization from the Perspective of Hope Studies. In: Journal for Japanese Studies 6, International Center for Japanese Studies, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, pp. 111-123.

Media contributions:

  • 10 Jahre Fukushima: “Der Ruck ist ausgeblieben” (by Lars Nicolaysen, dpa). u.a. In: Wiener Zeitung (2021/03/03). (Vogt)



  • Change and Continuity 10 Years after 3.11. Virtual Annual Conference of the German Association for Social Science Research on Japan (VSJF) in cooperation with Japanese-German Center Berlin (JDZB), 2021/03/19, organized by A. Wiemann, F. Koppenborg (TU Munich) and T. Weiss (Heidelberg University). For conference recording see JDZB Youtube channel.

Teaching Project:

  • To lead first year MA students through an empirical research process, we analyze interviews from the ‘Tōhoku kara no koe’-archive against the background of collective memory theory. (Wiemann, Slater)

Roundtable discussion and presentations (selected):

  • Studying Collective Memory after 311: From Archive to Pedagogy. At: Online Roundtable Discussion on “Sources of Disaster: New Epistemic Perspectives in Post-3.11 Japan” organized by Aoyama Gakuin University and the Teach311 & COVID-19 Collective (MPIWG), 2021/03/16, Online. (Slater, Wiemann, Dekant, Herzum, Winter)
  • Social Movements and Collective Memory: Social Movement Memory Makers and Past Movement Cycles in Japan after Fukushima. At: Heinrich-Heine Universität Düsseldorf, 2019/06/28. (Wiemann)
  • Wandel in der Zivilgesellschaft Japans? Das Ereignis Fukushima und seine Folgen. At: Philipps-Universität Marburg, Ringvorlesung „Konflikte in Gegenwart und Zukunft“, 2018/12/10. (Wiemann)