Call for Participation

Scholars studying seismic cultures have been invited to a small workshop  running at the University of Washington September 17-19, 2017. Over 15 scholars from Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, England, and the United States have agreed to attend.

In the process of getting funding for this workshop, the organizers defined “seismic culture” thusly:

“Seismic culture is the accumulation of mutual understandings of seismic risk that have become embedded within a region. It encompasses shared activities, attitudes, behaviors, perceptions, artifacts and documentation practices related to earthquakes that may translate to states of, for example, apathy, awareness, or preparedness. Seismic culture can be expressed tangibly by, for instance, the prevalence of earthquake-resistant buildings or public scientific discourse. It can also be expressed tacitly through, for example, local preparedness know-how or, more diffusely, through verbal, visual, political, and economic narratives. Whether tangible or tacit, communities around the Pacific Rim have a great variety of seismic cultures.”

As part of the workshop, we will examine presented research through comparative analysis, and discuss pedagogical and future research needs. Workshop participants are invited to use, respond, evolve, and critique this concept as it applies to their areas of expertise and interest.


By August 17th, 2017 we ask attendees to submit an approximately 5000-word paper that elaborates on their thinking or past research. Each paper will be formally discussed by two participants during the workshop after the author presents a summary. We also ask that each attendee act as a discussant for two papers from other attendees. We aspire to create an edited volume out of the papers presented at this workshop, as well as an outline of a proposal to fund a larger workshop on the topic.


As provocation for our collective thinking on seismic cultures, workshop presentations, and our post-presentation discussions, we ask attendees to provide thoughtful answers to the following four questions. We offer no guidance on word counts other than a) we hope that most of us skim most of the provocations prior to the workshop (i.e., be concise or at least structured for skimming) and b) we hope that answers are rich enough to provoke thought and discussion. The four questions:

1. What is your interpretation of the meaning of seismic culture?
2. How does this concept connect to your discipline(s) or area(s) of research?
3. How does seismic culture relate to your empirical and/or theoretical research, if at all?
4. What is your understanding of seismic culture for the place(s) that you are most familiar or interested?

In addition to any references (scholarly or otherwise), please feel free to include imagery or any other media in your provocation (question answers). Our goal at this stage is to provoke dialogue about seismic culture. We will discuss possibilities for scholarly publication of our work at the workshop.

At the workshop, we will ask that everyone present for 10 minutes, expanding on some or all of their provocation. Each of you will be assigned to be a discussant of another participant’s provocation. We will ask discussants to kickoff/facilitate a discussion of the assigned provocation after the corresponding workshop presentation. Please plan on submitting your provocation by September 1. This will provide us all time to skim the submissions, ensuring a rich and informed dialogue throughout the workshop.