StratComm professor examines how sharing stories heals after tragedy

Strategic Communication Assistant Professor Kaibin Xu’s article entitled “In the wake of the Wenchuan earthquake: The function of story-sharing in rebuilding communities in the quake disaster zone, ” has been published in Asian Journal of Communication, Volume 23, Issue 2, 2013.

This study investigated the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake survivors’ communication practices in two communities in Beichuan during summer 2009, focusing on survivors’ sharing of earthquake stories.

Four major purposes were identified in quake survivors’ narratives:

  • memorializing loved ones and the past
  • clarifying conflicting emotions
  • reappraising reality and life values
  • rebuilding community

This study suggests that sharing such stories serves a therapeutic purpose that helps survivors cope with negative experiences and emotions, and to rebuild their communities.