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Grant number: FO-50063-08

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Philip C. Brown
Ohio State University (Columbus, OH 43210-1132)

The Impact of Floods, Landslides, and Other Natural Disasters on the Modernization of Japan, 19th-20th Centuries

I explore how Japan's transition from a decentralized to an increasingly centralized government altered technical and social responses to widespread flood risk. I examine how local, prefecture and national organizations used old and new technologies along with policy to ameliorate natural hazard risks emphasizing the case of Niigata Prefecture. I explore 1) conditions of successful technology transfer and domestic diffusion (e.g., technological adaptations to accommodate new socio-cultural/political contexts), 2) how users select/modify the technologies they employ and 3) how social policy, e.g., zoning, complements technological solutions in the 19th and 20th centuries. Japan's experience offers insights into social and environmental opportunities/risks faced by developing societies today as they become more integrated and are governed by more powerful governments that undertake riparian projects for social benefit, international prestige, and to enhance their self-image as "modern."

Project fields:
East Asian History

Fellowships for Advanced Research on Japan

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2009 – 6/30/2010