Accepted Paper:

Doing ethnography at home: a reflection from post-disaster Fukushima  

Author:

Kaoru Miyazawa (Gettysburg College)

Paper short abstract:

This essay delineates how my feelings about the nuclear power plant, radiation, and Fukushima people shifted during my fieldwork in Fukushima (my hometown), which experienced nuclear power plant explosion in 2011.

Paper long abstract:

Since the explosion of Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant in 2011, messages highlighting the danger of nuclear, and pathologization of Fukushima people as lacking scientific knowledge about nuclear have been dominant. Having raised in Fukushima, I questioned such a narrow representation of Fukushima people and returned to Fukushima in 2013 to conduct an ethnographic study about school teachers’ perception of nuclear power, and how it impacted their teaching. This reflexive essay delineates how my feelings about the nuclear power plant, radiation, and Fukushima people shifted during my total of seven month-stay in Fukushima. Using Sara Ahmed’s (2014) notion of emotion, I view emotion as a productive force that circulates between real and imaginary objects and bodies; emotions move us toward or away from certain objects or bodies and stick or separate them. I was susceptible to this productive power of emotion during my study. Prior to my visit to Fukushima, fear about radiation and nuclear was only emotion I had. However, learning about the feeling of “disgust” projected to evacuees from Fukushima developed empathy for Fukushima people and anger toward those who only communicated negative sides of nuclear. Additionally, hearing nostalgic memories of the nuclear power plant from the community members, and visiting Fukushima Daini Power Plant generated an exciting feeling about the power plant. Through this explanation, I demonstrate how and why we create risky objects like nuclear power plants and sustain attachment to them even after experiencing a catastrophe, without pathologizing people in Fukushima, who may romanticize nuclear.

Panel C12
Colliding theories, cultures, and futures. STS view(s) beyond the horizon. Or: STS diaspora