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Title: From Volunteers to Voluntours: shifting priorities in post-disaster Japan
Authors: McMorran, CM 
Issue Date: Dec-2016
Publisher: Japan Forum
Citation: McMorran, CM (2016-12). From Volunteers to Voluntours: shifting priorities in post-disaster Japan. JSA-ASEAN Conference. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: This paper analyses the emergence of post-disaster ‘voluntours’ following Japan’s 2011 disasters. An overwhelming, yet haphazard volunteer response to previous disasters spurred extensive collaboration between the state, relief organizations, and would-be volunteers in the wake of 3.11. However, when mapped onto to the massive devastation of the 3.11 disasters, this collaboration almost immediately turned many post-disaster volunteers into ‘voluntourists’, a problematic category commonly associated with visitors from the Global North volunteering for social and environmental causes while on holiday in the Global South. Japan’s post-disaster voluntours demonstrate how uncoordinated and potentially risky volunteers have been channelled into a carefully-controlled and long-term response that satisfies people’s desire to help disaster victims, while ultimately encouraging tourism (sans volunteering) as the most desirable form of disaster recovery assistance. This shift toward voluntourism potentially undermines post-disaster volunteering and threatens to trap parts of Tohoku, like other disaster sites, in a position of permanently ‘post-disaster’.
Source Title: JSA-ASEAN Conference
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