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Author Daniel Aldrich | Focus Interviews

Professor Aldrich sits down with us to discuss his most recent book, the 2011 triple-disaster in Japan, and how strong communities save lives.

About today's guest—

He's here with us to discuss his most recent book, Black Wave: How Networks and Governance Shaped Japan’s 3/11 Disasters.

A professor of political science and public policy at Northeastern University, where he's also the director of the Security and Resilience Studies Program, Daniel Aldrich is a leading scholar on disaster mitigation and recovery. In the midst of a prolonged mess like Covid which could have generational ramifications, his book, going well beyond our traditional ways of thinking about disasters, is especially relevant.

He's spent more than five years carrying out fieldwork in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East and his research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Fulbright Foundation, and the Abe Foundation. He has an impressive publication record of five books, more than seventy peer reviewed articles, and op-eds for The New York Times and others.

About today's topic—

Though battered by Covid—which forced us into a cramped, sweltering closet amid an unwelcome 90° heat wave—we were determined to make the most of this conversation. Given that it lasted more than 45 lively minutes, ranging from the technical details of the Fukushima meltdown to questions about liberal democracy's compatibility with community, I think we succeeded. A quick preview:

00:00— Getting started
01:08— Summarizing the entire triple disaster, as it played out on 3/11/11
05:42— Why doesn't Aldrich say "natural disaster" & what do "Networks and Governance" have to do with all this?
10:15— Does Japan's one-party(-ish) democracy have a "clientelism" problem?
18:10— Is liberal democracy too individualistic to develop the strong communities necessary for disaster resilience?
28:45— Do democracy's strengths still apply to Covid? Have authoritarian regimes managed the pandemic better?
38:40— Nuclear energy: is it a matter of bad regulation or just bad technology?
45:45— Wrapping up

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If you're interested in purchasing Professor Aldrich's book, you can find it here.

Enjoy the conversation, and a special thanks to Professor Aldrich for sitting down with us!

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