True, but trival? The value of grass-roots cultural local stories and songs as effective DRR strategy on Simaleu, Indonesia

Stephen Anthony Sutton, Petra Buergelt, Douglas Paton, Saut Sagala

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paper presented at Conference (not in Proceedings)

Abstract

This paper discusses research into the cultural drivers of a successful community-wide disaster risk reduction (DRR) strategy on Simeulue Island, Aceh, Indonesia. While the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami killed more than 200,000 people in neighbouring Acehnese communities, only 7 of a coastal population of 80,000 were killed in Simeulue. This paper discusses how deep-seated cognitive processes derived from a tradition of stories and songs about a previous tsunami event that affected the Sumatran coast 100 years before resulted in the people of Simeulue rapidly recognizing the signs of the tsunami and responded in the appropriate ways. These stories and songs became an integralpart of adat or traditional culture of the island. However, these stories and songs were not recognized as valuable DRR strategy by authorities and researchers until after the 2004 event. The stories and songs were largely invisible precisely because they were such an embedded, integral, taken-forgranted part of the culture and thus were ‘low-key’, ‘in-house’ and ‘grass-roots’. Authorities also considered stories and songs trivial, and discounted them in favour of ‘more important’ official information. The paper also discusses how the predominant use of quantitative research approaches obscured access to and appreciation of the relevance and workings of stories and songs. Exploring the role of narrative and music on human cognition is used to explain why and how the stories and songs of the Simeulue Islanders constituted an effective DRR strategy. Lessons for enhancing risk communication in Australia are presented.
Original languageEnglish
Pages94-95
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018
Event14th Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) and International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS) Multi-Hazards Symposium - ANU, Canberra , Australia
Duration: 21 Oct 201824 Oct 2018
http://rses.anu.edu.au/news-events/14th-apru-multi-hazards-symposium

Conference

Conference14th Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) and International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS) Multi-Hazards Symposium
CountryAustralia
CityCanberra
Period21/10/1824/10/18
Internet address

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    Sutton, S. A., Buergelt, P., Paton, D., & Sagala, S. (2018). True, but trival? The value of grass-roots cultural local stories and songs as effective DRR strategy on Simaleu, Indonesia. 94-95. Paper presented at 14th Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) and International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS) Multi-Hazards Symposium, Canberra , Australia.