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News Release

February 2, 2006

Faultlines: Understanding the 2005 Earthquake in South Asia

NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—Since a massive earthquake struck Pakistan and India last October, killing some 87,000 people and leaving more than 3 million homeless in the devastated Jammu and Kashmir region, the effects—historical, geological, political and humanitarian—have been intractable and global.

To help decipher some of the far-reaching ramifications of the catastrophe, a panel of experts will convene at Smith College at 4 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 13, in Seelye Hall, Room 201. The discussion is free and open to the public.

Panelists include Smith College faculty members Ravina Aggarwal, a cultural anthropologist, and H. Robert Burger, a geologist, as well as the leaders of two organizations involved in relief efforts—Gillian Dunn of the International Rescue Committee and S. Asif Alam of the Association of Pakistani Professionals.

Ravina Aggarwal, associate professor of anthropology, has done extensive field research in the trans-Himalayan region most impacted by the earthquake. Her recent book, “Beyond Lines of Control: Performance and Politics on the Disputed Borders of Ladakh, India,” delves into the Indo-Pakistani boundary negotiations. As a cultural anthropologist, she has examined religious discord, border tensions, tourism and social stratification in that region.

H. Robert Burger, Achilles Professor of Geology, teaches about confronting and coping with natural disasters such as earthquakes. Burger analyzes the current status of how we predict such disasters, how we minimize their impacts, the effect of disasters on the course of human history, and public policy issues.

Gillian Dunn is an emergency response team coordinator for the International Rescue Committee, a non-profit voluntary agency providing assistance for refugees around the world. She has worked in areas affected by manmade and natural disasters including eastern Chad, Chechnya and Liberia as well as the Aceh province of Indonesia, the region hardest hit by the tsunami in 2004.

S. Asif Alam is president of the Association of Pakistani Professionals, an independent group working to ensure the dissemination of accurate information about Pakistan, its society, people and diverse cultures. Alam is also a member of the steering committee of SAQUAKE.ORG, an alliance that is involved in earthquake relief efforts.

The panel discussion is sponsored by the Student Government Association, the Office of the Provost and the Dean of the College.

Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Kristen Cole
Media Relations Director
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174

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