Meanings of a disaster : the contested 'truth' about Chernobyl : British and French Chernobyl debates and the transnationality of arguments and actors
Title: Meanings of a disaster : the contested 'truth' about Chernobyl : British and French Chernobyl debates and the transnationality of arguments and actors
Author: KALMBACH, Karena
Citation: Florence : European University Institute, 2014
Series/Number: EUI PhD theses; Department of History and Civilization
This thesis compares the French and British Chernobyl debates in the period between 1986 and 2006 and investigates the transnational debate on the health effects of this accident. While the exchange of actors and arguments has resulted in a rather congruent debate at the transnational level, the internal country debates on Chernobyl have remained very much bound by the national framework. This becomes particularly obvious in the comparison of the French and British Chernobyl debates, where multiple factors, specific to the national context, have shaped the different trajectories of the debates. In France, from the outset, Chernobyl was framed as a French debate, and placed into the context of the nucleócratie. In Britain, such an interpretative framework did not exist for the civil nuclear programme, since the predominant criticism against the nuclear enterprise had always been directed against the military complex and more focused on aspects of international relations than on the national nuclear energy complex. In Britain, therefore, Chernobyl was considered from a global perspective, whereas in France the focus was placed on the accident's impact at home. However, with the end of the Cold War and the British government's decision in the mid-1990s to no longer finance new nuclear power plants, anti-nuclear positions as such lost their impetus. Thus, few people in Britain were interested transforming the debate on the health impact of Chernobyl into a proxy war in the fight over the legitimacy of the civil nuclear enterprise, as was happening in France. Leaving this discursive and commemorative gap to the solidarity movement, in Britain, Chernobyl did not become an anti-nuclear lieu de mémoire as it did in France, but instead became associated primarily with charity activities for disabled or unprivileged children from Eastern Europe which effectively 'depoliticized' Chernobyl and separated it from the nuclear debate.
LC Subject Heading: Chernobyl Nuclear Accident, Chornobyl', Ukraine, 1986; Nuclear energy -- Political aspects -- Great Britain; Nuclear energy -- Political aspects -- France; Nuclear energy -- Public opinion
Defence date: 26 September 2014; Examining Board: Professor Dr. Heinz-Gerhard Haupt (European University Institute); Professor Dr. Pavel Kolar (European University Institute); Professor Dr. Jens Ivo Engels (Technische Universität Darmstadt); Dr. Dick van Lente (Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam).
Type of Access: openAccess