Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Geography and Anthropology

Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

This dissertation focuses on the memory work that surrounds the five deadliest tornadoes in Oklahoma. Qualitative methods were used to find and interpret tornado stories people chose to relay through writings, oral retellings, and the sharing of photographic images. Sharing and hearing tornado stories explains how shared individual experiences can help researchers to understand memory work, while the sharing of photographs shows how visual methods do the memory work for survivors. Together, these shared memories have the capacity to inform regional identity that centers around strength and resilient behavior in the face of unpredictable risk. My work shows how the sharing of these tornado stories over time created a social memory that has not only resonated with Oklahomans but helped to shape their personal, community, and regional identities. The way people share and ground themselves in tornado stories gives community members the confidence that they can persevere in the case of a tornadic event just as the people who came before them did. Building these support systems out of tragedy is a positive, adaptive use of memory that comes from sharing tornado stories.

Committee Chair

Colten, Craig

Available for download on Friday, March 12, 2027

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