Visual Anthropological Methods in Earthquake Risk Communication: A Transdisciplinary Approach
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Increases in disaster losses, in combination with emerging cascading crises, are provoking a fundamental rethinking of prevailing disaster risk reduction measures, including risk communication principles and practices. The resulting paradigm shift towards participation, action, and prevention is firmly outlined in the Sendai Framework’s call for (1) more people-centred approaches and (2) the broader use of innovative information and communication technology (ICT). However, this call raises many epistemological and methodological challenges and open questions about how hazard scientists will translate these novel requirements into their daily research practice.
This thesis presents a practice-led enquiry dedicated to exploring the potential of audiovisual methods for novel approaches in the field of seismic risk communication. It confronts the shortcoming that disaster risk communication research and practice are still widely rooted in earlier outdated models of risk communication. Theoretically underpinned by research in the field of applied visual anthropology and transdisciplinary science, two video-based case studies were undertaken, as well as the development of four audiovisual prototypes. Ethnographic fieldwork in Istanbul was conducted in close collaboration with a multidisciplinary group of hazard scientists and inhabitants of at-risk communities, producing rich in-depth data on their perceptions. My research thus provides new insights into how audiovisual methods might help to facilitate novel approaches in risk communication. In particular, audiovisual techniques are used in three ways: (1) as a research tool in the context of an ethnographic field study; (2) as a collaborative editing tool; and (3) as a risk communication training tool. The interlinking aim is to critically conceptualise, apply, and also partly evaluate audiovisual methods and generate insights on how risk communication might be re-thought and re-practised.
This thesis presents the first critical analysis of the current use of audiovisual methods in the field of disaster risk communication. Moreover, it provides an innovative methodology, grounded in applied visual anthropology and transdisciplinary research, in which theory and practice inform each other through processes of knowledge co-production, co-design, iterations, and feedback loops. The resulting case studies and audiovisual prototypes break new ground in transformative science, specifically in setting out the template for a new critical interface between hazard science and society, namely the emergent field of ‘transformative risk communication’.