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Atomic Fish: Sublime and Non-Sublime Nuclear Nature Imaginaries
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Human Geography.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0553-1295
2018 (English)In: Azimuth, ISSN 2282-4863, Vol. 6, no 12, p. 59-75Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this article, I articulate a tension between sublime and non-sublime nuclear nature imaginaries through an investigation of four types of atomic fish practices in and around nuclear power plants: fish farms, sports fishing, management of fish in cooling water systems, and finally, test fishing as part of environmental monitoring programs. Nuclear technology is generally understood as exceptional, be it from a utopian or a dystopian point of view. This understanding, combined with the sociotechnical imaginary of containment, forms the basis for an (inherently contradictory) nuclear technological sublime. In contrast to this dominant imaginary, I suggest that there is a partly interrelated, partly parallel, set of nuclear imaginaries characterized by domestication, normality and the non-sublime, discernible through mundane activities such as atomic fish practices. The existence of fish farming at nuclear power plants, along with sports fishing in the surrounding waters, shapes an understanding of atomic fish as a normal, or even slightly improved human diet, to harvest or to hunt, while the controlling practices of managing and testing fish in cooling water systems and environmental monitoring build an imaginary of normality based on everyday routines. Domesticated nuclear natures therefore signify, on the one hand, a containment of the exceptional aspects and, on the other hand, normalizing practices on the household scale. I conclude that domestication of nuclear natures must not only imply the control and containment of something exceptional or wild in a sublime sense, it can also denote normalization without grandeur. The nuclear nature imaginary may be completely non-impressive and non-sublime, still it is highly decisive for local perceptions of the nuclear technology.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. Vol. 6, no 12, p. 59-75
National Category
History of Technology Human Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-163750OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-163750DiVA, id: diva2:1276581
Available from: 2019-01-08 Created: 2019-01-08 Last updated: 2019-05-24

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