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The "Talking Circle" as Sociological Practice: Cultural Transformation of Chronic Disaster Impacts

J. Steven Picou
Sociological Practice
Vol. 2, No. 2 (June 2000), pp. 77-97
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/43735710
Page Count: 21
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The "Talking Circle" as Sociological Practice: Cultural Transformation of Chronic Disaster Impacts
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Abstract

Technological disasters are unique in that they result in long-term social impacts. The mitigation of such impacts is an area that has received little attention in both the disaster and the applied sociology literatures. This article presents a description of a culturally sensitive mitigation strategy, the "Talking Circle," and its application to Alaska Natives negatively impacted by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill Talking Circles are a traditional social activity for Alaska Natives and this activity was organized and implemented by members of the Village of Eyak in Prince William Sound, Alaska. The 2-day event resulted in many testimonies about personal experiences with the oil spill. Post-Talking Circle activities by Eyak Village members indicate increased cultural awareness and political mobilization. These findings suggest that this mitigation strategy promoted cultural consciousness among victims experiencing chronic disaster impacts and resulted in a "transforming activity" for the Native Village of Eyak.

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