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Radiating Knowledge: The Public Anthropology of Nuclear Energy

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Abstract

ABSTRACT  In marking the first anniversary of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster, this essay reviews some of the ways in which anthropologists have intervened in public discourse and policy around nuclear energy over the past 30 years. Many scholars suggest that effective change requires a degree of ongoing public participation in the debate around nuclear power. In arguing for the significance of anthropology in helping to sustain public discussion between crises, I take note of an eerie absence of anthropological voices represented in mainstream media. I suggest that it is often only immediately following a tragedy that anthropological insights percolate into public consciousness. Ultimately, I argue that it is the responsibility of those in our discipline to continue to push for a more inclusive and thoughtful dialogue about nuclear energy. [public anthropology, public debate, Fukushima, nuclear energy, media representation]

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