(George Mason University)
Paper Short Abstract:
Focusing on the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and the offshore windmills newly built in the adjacent water, this paper will examine the narratives of the future that are generated and renewed through the construction of energy infrastructure.
Paper long abstract:
By demolishing infrastructure, disasters ruin futures that were once built, while simultaneously allowing new futures to sprout from a broken landscape. Japan offers an example: three years after the massive tsunami that crippled the nuclear power plant—representing a future that Japan of the past had imagined—the nation is on its way to build a new future by constructing the world's largest wind farm off the infamous Fukushima coast. This grand project was initialized before the disaster by university researchers, but struggled to receive broader support. In the wake of the catastrophe, however, public concerns about radiation as well as government attempts to reconstruct the devastated region have generated tailwind for the alternative energy enterprise. There is a current pilot project to build three windmills by 2015, with the first of the three already completed in October 2013. Celebrating the region's new prospects, the project granted the windmill a name: "Fukushima Future" (Fukushima Mirai). Through analyzing the narratives of the future surrounding Fukushima and also historicizing them, this paper tries to draw what Jane Guyer (2007) has called "an ethnography of the near future" and examines the shifting but related narratives of the future in the past and the present. Moreover, by tracing the history of temporal momenta of energy infrastructures and by discussing previous and current narratives of the future, the paper suggests that the near future projected through the current wind farm is drawn from a future that was imagined in a particular past.
Renewable energy infrastructure