Fazila Derya Agis, University of the People
This study refers to some Turkish and Italian journal and magazine articles that analyze the behavior and attitudes of stray and wild cats and dogs, birds, and fish during earthquakes, underlining the popular beliefs about them, accidents that happened to them, and idioms and proverbs that reveal the cultural significance of cats, dogs, birds, and fish as those animals witnessed the huge earthquakes in the Marmara Region in Turkey in 1999, in Izmir in 2020 and in Kahramanmaras and Gaziantep in 2023, as well as horrible earthquakes in Italy in 1908, 1980, 2009, and 2016. The frequency rates of the words related to animals and their behavior were analyzed via Voyant-Tools. Accordingly, the major themes of journal and magazine articles on these animals during the earthquakes should be divided into five groups: 1. Animals that sense that an earthquake will occur; 2. Animals that survive healthily from an earthquake; 3. Assistant rescue animals; 4. Superstitious, or folkloric beliefs about animals; and 5. Animals in specific shelters after an earthquake. As journal and magazine articles are based on the memories of some witnesses and their oral narratives that are crucial from an environmental historical point of view, this study proposes that some animals can be used in the prediction of environmental disasters and these animals have culture-specific values within the framework of Bruno Latour’s Actor-Network Theory from an environmental historical aspect. Besides, animal rights, laws on animals, disaster diplomacy, and animal assistance after earthquakes are global issues related to Turkish and Italian relations. Accordingly, this archival study brings environmental history in dialogue with memory studies, animals can be regarded as environmental heritages for being region-specific, people’s folkloristic beliefs influence their interpretation of the relationship between earthquakes and animals, and the protection of animals during earthquakes forms a political linguistic debate.
Presented in Session 10. Constructing and Obstructing Community