Social Tremors: Gendered Psychological Impacts of the 2015 Earthquake in Nepal

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 14:30
Location: Hörsaal 16 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Steven FOLMAR, Wake Forest University, USA
Lamjung District, less affected than other areas by the 2015 earthquakes in Nepal, experienced degrees of physical impact and psychological damage that varied widely in the area between Besisahar and the eastern border it shares with Gorkha.  Results of a psychological survey of 180 adolescents collected in August and September of 2015 fail to produce a clear and consistent picture of the earthquakes’ effects on mental health. Narratives from nearly 80 individuals, collected at the same time clearly demonstrate that while much individual variation exists, the April 25 and May 12 earthquakes’ effects followed fault lines already extant in Nepalese society.  Gender, caste and ethnicity illustrate how existing divisions in social structure account for much of the difference in how people experienced the earthquakes.  Cutting across these divisions, the density of kin networks and the power of world views emerge as explanations for coping with the impact of disaster on individuals independent of the severity with which the earthquake disrupted their lives.  Particular gender-based considerations of kin-based responsibilities figure prominently in gender differences. Large, dense social networks revolving around close kin appear as the most powerful explanation for psychological resilience, especially when combined with a rich ritual response.