Atoms and Nature in Ukraine: From Cold War to Russia's War
CBEES Environmental Humanities Seminar (Envhumseminar) with Tatiana Kasperski, Visiting Researcher, Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES), Södertörn University
Speaker: Dr. Tatiana Kasperski, Visiting Researcher, Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES), Södertörn University.
Discussant: Per Högselius, Professor of History of Technology, KTH Royal Institute of Technology.
Abstract: This presentation explores the environmental history and politics of the nuclear age in Ukraine and contributes to better understanding of some of the local and international contexts and consequences of Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine. It goes beyond existing historiography that has until recently focused primarily on the Chernobyl disaster to pay attention to the environmental legacies of the pre-Chernobyl development of nuclear technology in Ukraine and, in particular, Ukraine’s involvement in Soviet nuclear weapons development since late 1940s. Drawing on such approaches and concepts as “nuclear colonialism” and “envirotechnical systems” and deconstructing the deeply entrenched distinction between “military” and “peaceful” atom, it will reflect on the pivotal periods of Ukrainian nuclear history from the early days of Soviet scientific colonialism to independence, and on the recreation of nuclear institutions – and their accompanying environmental legacies and challenges. Finally, this nuclear environmental history of Ukraine illuminates the broader inner workings and inherent risks of the global nuclear order.