HIEA 114 Initial Post
Hello, my name is InSoo Kim. I’m a second-year at Warren studying history, and I love to delve into the imperial relations of East Asia, which is why I’m very excited to be taking this class.
What resonates with you about how Solnit and/or Cooke have written about disaster, and the kind of communities that form in response?
Cooke’s writings on the COVID-19 pandemic and the way that communities have responded to disaster are interesting: she takes note of both the good and bad, and how we tend to repeat historical patterns. For instance, she compares the COVID-19 pandemic’s characterization as the “Chinese virus” to the AIDS pandemic which demonized members of the LGBT community, or cancer to those who were sinful, and so forth. However, people are organizing through sites like Facebook — although I very much think that the increased usage of social media as a result of the pandemic is a very negative thing for American society, the impacts of social support through social media have been very positive and undeniably important to many.
Solnit takes a more comprehensive look of mutual aid through communities like Common Ground, Rainbow Gatherings, the Black Panthers, or otherwise. She notes how the “beloved community” is striven for by several communities that respond to disaster, and groups like Habitat for Humanity or Common Ground serve to work in terms of decolonizing imperial relations (like racial tensions) as well. Katrina was very much a racial issue as well: the response was most certainly not what it should have been due to institutional racist bureaucracy. However, through these groups that responded to disaster, there has definitely been some progress.
I think this recognition of the racial tensions that always arise in response to disaster and the efforts to decolonize them are what really resonate with me in terms of these readings. I’ve only been here for a short period of about two years, but I’ve come to recognize that I live in an imperialized society that discriminates against me, and I’ve noticed it in the way some people interact with me as well. I think that as a result I’ve taken a particular interest into imperial relations and how racism works as a part of imperialism, and how important decolonization is. Both pieces deal with this concept thoroughly, and I think that it’s interesting how disaster events bring racial tensions to light so that they may be addressed.