1. Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient
  2. Events
  3. A Chronotope of Expansion: Unknowing Nuclear Wastes in a Kazakh Nuclear Town
Lecture, Lecture series

A Chronotope of Expansion: Unknowing Nuclear Wastes in a Kazakh Nuclear Town

Lecture by Catherine Alexander (Durham University)

Postponed from 27 October 2022.

From 1947 to 1989, the main Soviet nuclear weapon test site was in north east Kazakhstan, described by a nuclear physicist as ‘this distant fireball’. This paper moves between such perspectives from afar and what it is like now to live among the remnants of those fireballs. While the Soviet and indeed post-Soviet regime use a variety of strategies to contain and ‘disappear’ the site, or at least lingering contamination, local responses are more ambivalent. What appears is a chronotope of expansion that resists both temporal and spatial containment, denies progress and the possibility of moving to a brighter peaceful nuclear energy future, as the present government hopes.

Catherine Alexander is Professor of Social Anthropology at Durham University. Amongst other interests she has been working on a variety of issues connected with household and nuclear wastes and their management in Britain and Kazakhstan for over 20 years. She currently holds a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship ‘Forms and Fears of Failure’ investigating how different kinds of failure appear and are experienced at different scales and temporalities in large public sector organizations.

The event will be held online. Please register here to participate via Zoom.

This event is part of the lecture series:
ZMO Colloquium Winter Semester 2022/2023
Environmental (Un)Knowing: Exploring the nexus of epistemic and environmental injustice