Accepted Paper:

Maps, demarcations and containers: Tracing post-Fukushima nuclear imaginaries of containment through spatial reordering  


Ulrike Felt (University of Vienna)

Paper long abstract:

The Fukushima accident that followed the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011 has been investigated by numerous scholarly communities as one of most recent techno-natural disasters. This paper wants to contribute to this on-going debate through understanding one essential mode of ordering at work in such a situation of disaster and through reflecting how this supports nuclear energy actors' efforts to re-envision nuclear containment. I will elaborate on a delimitation regime put in place in the aftermath of the disaster, i.e. investigate how the (temporal) reordering of space around Fukushima and well beyond can be read as the creation of a specific sociotechnical imaginary of containment through spatial reordering.

The paper will focus on three kinds of techniques deployed: map-making, physical demarcations, and containers for contaminated waste-water and radioactive soil. Concretely I will investigate different kinds of radiation and evacuation maps, look into practices of physically defining/imposing zones of non-/limited habitation and reflect on the efforts to collect and "localize" radioactive waste-water and soil.

This will lead me (1) to argue how the keeping of power in such a situation is relying on the capacity to influence the production and distribution of space and (2) to show the development of a new sociotechnical imaginary of nuclear containment through spatial reordering.

The paper empirically draws on two site-visits to the Fukushima prefecture, a collection of visual material used in debates and talks, extensive conversation with medical practitioners in Fukushima and other experts visiting the area.

Panel L4
Energy controversies and technology conflicts