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Pre-July 2009 Press Archives

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4/1/2009 Linfield professor to discuss disaster relief

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            McMINNVILLE – The grassroots volunteer response following Hurricane Katrina will be the topic of an upcoming faculty lecture at Linfield College.

            Rob Gardner, assistant professor of sociology, will present “The Drama of Disaster Relief: Rhetoric and Performance in Grassroots Response Groups” on Wednesday, April 15, at 7:30 p.m. in 201 Riley Hall at Linfield.

            After Hurricane Katrina, the world watched as the government relief effort struggled to provide basic needs such as food, water, clothing and shelter to disaster victims. Large bureaucratic relief organizations like FEMA and Red Cross were criticized broadly for their sluggish response and the layers of red tape, which prevented many residents from receiving timely or appropriate relief.

            Gardner will present his research on grassroots organizational responses to disaster events, drawing from several months of fieldwork in the Gulf Coast region after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 and Hurricane Ike in 2008, as well as collaborative work with students. His research examines the activities of relief volunteers who emerged to fill the gaps left by traditional relief efforts. He studies their relief activities as stylized rhetorical performances that voice opposition to the perceived failure of bureaucratic decision-making and provide alternatives to command and control approaches to disaster response.

            Gardner holds a bachelor’s degree from Bowling Green State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado-Boulder. In addition to research exploring grassroots volunteer response, Gardner is working on an edited collection of essays exploring the phenomenon of Recurrent Temporary Communities. His doctoral research examined the growth of bluegrass music and culture in the Rocky Mountain West.

            The lecture is free and open to the public. The Linfield College faculty lecture series offers one presentation each month by a member of the Linfield faculty. For more information, call 503-883-2409.