Tessa Morris-Suzuki on Nuclear Disaster, Uncertainty and Citizen Science: from Chernobyl to Fukushima

Abstract

The nuclear disaster which followed Japan’s earthquake and tsunami of 11 March 2011 raised profound questions of the relationship between science and everyday life in contemporary society. The explosions and meltdowns at Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant focused attention on the many uncertainties surrounding the biological effects of radiation, and created massive and continuing challenges for communities exposed to those effects. This paper explores the shaping of public discourse surrounding radiation and health from Chernobyl to Fukushima, and examines the historical background and contemporary activism of Japanese ‘citizen scientists’ who are developing their own responses to the disaster.

About the speaker

Tessa Morris-Suzuki   is currently engaged research projects on conflict and reconciliation between Japan, China and the two Koreas; humanitarianism in mid-twentieth century Northeast Asia; migration and refugee issues in Northeast Asia; local grass-roots civil society in Japan; and the little-known story of Korean kamikaze (tokkotai) pilots. She convene's the Asian Civil Rights Network and co-edit the network's online journal Asiarights. Her most recent books include include Borderline Japan, a study of migration and border controls in the postwar era; To the Diamond Mountains, which retraces the journey made by English traveler Emily Georgiana Kemp through China and Korea in 1910; Exodus to North Korea, a study of the mass migration of ethnic Koreans from Japan to North Korea in the Cold War era, and The Past Within Us: Media, Memory, History, which discusses the representation of history in varied popular media. She also co-edited the eight-volume history of the Asia-Pacific War published in Japanese by Iwanami Publishers, 2005-2006.

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