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Cross-Cultural Interactions

  • By: J. C. Gaillard, K. Sudmeier-Rieux, I. Kelman & B. McAdoo
  • In: Encyclopedia of Disaster Relief
  • Edited by: K. Bradley Penuel & Matt Statler
  • Subject:Public Health (general), Public Policy (general)

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) defines culture as the whole complex of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features that characterize a society or social group. It includes not only the arts and letters, but also modes of life, the fundamental rights of the human being, value systems, traditions, and beliefs. Culture and cross-cultural interactions influence perceptions and representations of risk, how people will behave during and after a disaster, and how they will prepare and plan for disasters.

Culture can have very positive influences on people's coping capacities, such as indigenous knowledge of weather patterns or other signs of oncoming extreme events. Traditional ceremonies can communicate warning signs and provide psychological support in coping with disasters. These beliefs, knowledge, technology, and ...

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