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Sources for Tsunami Aftermath

January 4, 2005

The following UC Davis faculty members are available to speak on topics related to the South Asian tsunami and its aftermath. If you need information on a topic not listed, please contact Susanne Rockwell at the UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-9841, sgrockwell@ucdavis.edu; Carole Gan, UC Davis Health System News Service, (916) 734-9047, carole.gan@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu; or Andy Fell, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-4533, ahfell@ucdavis.edu.

  • Economic impacts
  • Medical and health issues
  • Religious and governmental responses
  • Sri Lankan politics
  • Thai economics, politics and religion
  • Women, men and recovery
  • Globalism and coastal development
  • Emergency and disaster response
  • Earthquake forecasting

ECONOMIC IMPACTS -- Wing Thye Woo, one of the world's leading experts on Asian economies, can discuss the economic and political implications of the tsunami on South Asia. The UC Davis professor of economics believes that China's entry into the World Trade Organization is having a much greater impact on the South Asian economies than the tsunami. "This most likely will have a small impact since it hurt the lowest income earners in the region," he says. "Even so, this is a second major 'storm' for the South Asian countries because of China's import of industries from Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia." Woo is the Asian economies adviser to the United National Millennium Development Reports, to be released Jan. 17, about a plan to improve the living conditions for the world's poor. He is also the author of two books on economic development in Indonesia. Contact: Wing Thye Woo, Economics, (530) 752-3035, wtwoo@ucdavis.edu.

MEDICAL AND HEALTH ISSUES -- UC Davis Medical Center infectious disease expert Stuart H. Cohen can comment on the prevention and treatment of malaria, yellow fever and other water- and vector-borne diseases that are common following floods and other natural disasters. In addition, he can advise individuals who are traveling to affected regions in ways to reduce their risk of infection. Dr. Cohen specializes in the prevention and control of infectious disease outbreaks in patients, the hospital environment as well as the community. He is professor of infectious diseases and director of Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Control and, in addition, directs the department's Traveler's Clinic. Contact: Cohen can be reached by paging Carole Gan, News Service manager, UC Davis Health System, at (916) 762-2089.

RELIGIOUS AND GOVERNMENTAL RESPONSES -- UC Davis anthropologist Smriti Srinivas, who was in Sri Lanka during the tsunami and in Bangalore, India, a few days later, can talk about the quick responses by Sri Lankan and Indian governments and by religious organizations -- Hindu, Islamic and Christian. Srinivas' research interests include the study of cities and urban cultures, performance and society, and the cultural construction of collective memory. She is the author of "The Mouths of People, the Voice of God: Buddhists and Muslims in a Frontier Community of Ladakh" (1998), and "Landscapes of Urban Memory: The Sacred and the Civic in India's High-Tech City" (2001). Contact: Smriti Srinivas, Anthropology, (530) 752-9223, ssrinivas@ucdavis.edu.

SRI LANKAN POLITICS -- Ironically, the tsunami may offer hope for reconciliation between the Sri Lankan government and a parallel, separatist government run by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, says UC Davis South Asia historian James Heitzman. That separatist government runs the northern areas of Sri Lanka, where most of the devastation occurred. "The resources of the state have been stretched to the limit due to a long, difficult civil war, and the separatists alone will find it difficult to provide services to the area," says Heitzman, who was in the country during the disaster. He points out that most foreign aid will be directed only to the legitimate Sri Lankan government. However, if the devastated population is to get help, Sri Lankan officials will have to find common ground with the Tamil rebels. Heitzman is the author of "Gifts of Power," a history of Tamil Nada in India, and "Network City," which details the rise of the high technology industry in Bangalore. Contact: James Heitzman, Summer Sessions, (530) 757-3292, jheitzman@ucdavis.edu.

THAI ECONOMICS, POLITICS AND RELIGION -- UC Davis anthropologist Alan Klima can discuss possible problems in reviving Thai tourism due to the heavy media emphasis on destruction to that country's beaches and hotels. Although he expects little impact on the Thai political system, Klima can speak more broadly about how the tsunami may affect Thailand's recovery from its longtime economic crisis, which began in 1997. A scholar who studies the relationship between Buddhism, death and politics, Klima can also explain how Thais are handling the deaths from the tsunami. Klima wrote "The Funeral Casino: Meditation, Massacre, and Exchange With the Dead in Thailand" (2002). Contact: Alan Klima, Anthropology, (916) 427-1587 home, (530) 752-7319 office, aklima@ucdavis.edu.

WOMEN, MEN AND RECOVERY -- UC Davis economic geographer Janet Momsen has spent four decades studying the economic changes for men and women in developing countries such as Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Momsen can talk about what is in store for the poorest of the poor in trying to restart their lives after the tsunami. She can also discuss how poor women affected by the tsunami will feel particularly responsible for the loss of their homes and children, since those are the primary responsibility of females in South Asian societies. Her latest book, "Gender and Development," was published in 2004. She has written about tea tourism and micro credits in Sri Lanka. Contact: Janet Momsen, Human and Community Development, (530) 752-5061 office, (530) 758-8312 home, jdmomsen@ucdavis.edu.

GLOBALISM AND COASTAL DEVELOPMENT -- When the tsunami occurred, newcomers to South Asian shores, including tourists, didn't have the same survival skills as the traditional populations might have had, says UC Davis historian Sudipta Sen, who studies South Asia under the British colonial rule. Sen has a particular interest in the people who have lived on edges of water over history. Sen can offer historical and cultural perspectives for this region in regards to this and other disasters. He can also discuss how global and internal tourism as well as the urbanization it has spawned is transforming the coastal areas in parts of South Asia. "Disasters such as these are man-made and natural at the same time," he says. "The density of coastal settlements impact the magnitude of destruction, and one would imagine that the impact would have been relatively less in the past simply due to demography." Sen's newest book, due to be published in early 2006, is titled "Ganges: The Many Pasts of an Indian River." Contact: Sudipta Sen, History, (530) 752-3047, ssen@ucdavis.edu.

EMERGENCY AND DISASTER RESPONSE -- UC Davis Medical Center pulmonary and critical care specialist Steven Tharratt is a national authority on emergency preparedness and response to catastrophic events, including floods and bioterrorist events. He is the medical science adviser to the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services and the California State Emergency Services Authority. He is also medical director for Sacramento County Emergency Medical Services and all Sacramento City and County Fire Agencies. He is a member of the State Standing Committee on Terrorism, The Northern California FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, and the California State Threat Assessment Team. Dr. Tharratt was one of two physicians deployed to the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, with the Sacramento Urban Search and Rescue Team. Contact: Tharratt can be reached by paging Carole Gan, News Service manager, at (916) 762-2089.

EARTHQUAKE FORECASTING -- The location of the Dec. 26 earthquake that unleashed a devastating tsunami across the Indian Ocean was identified in a 10-year forecast of likely earthquake sites worldwide made recently by researchers at the UC Davis Center for Computational Science and Engineering. John Rundle, director of the center, and Donald Turcotte, professor of geology can talk about how computer models and records of past earthquakes were used to produce a worldwide map that shows "hotspots," where earthquakes of magnitude 7 or greater could occur between 2000 and 2010. The team has produced similar maps for California and Japan as part of the Quakesim project, a collaboration with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Contacts: John Rundle, Computational Science and Engineering Center, (530) 752-6416, jbrundle@ucdavis.edu; Donald Turcotte, Geology, (530) 752-6808, turcotte@geology.ucdavis.edu.

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