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Nuclear disaster as chronic crisis: Accounts of radiation embodiment by survivors of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster from Belarus born before, in and after 1986.

Authors
  • Zhukova, Ekatherina1
  • 1 Lund University, Sweden. , (Sweden)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Health (London, England : 1997)
Publication Date
Sep 01, 2020
Volume
24
Issue
5
Pages
589–605
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1177/1363459319829190
PMID: 30755050
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

This article looks at chronic crisis on an empirical example of radiation embodiment by survivors of a nuclear disaster. Developing further the work of Henrik Vigh, this article argues that chronic crisis is conflictual in nature, where some individuals fully embrace it, while others reject it. A total of 16 in-depth interviews were conducted with survivors of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster from Belarus who were below 18 years in 1986 and born in or after 1986. It is shown that survivors do not consider themselves affected, when they argue against social stigma imposed by others and when development discourse in relation to post-communist health care is used as a background against which nuclear victimhood can be argued. It is also demonstrated that survivors do consider themselves affected, when they embrace disaster temporality and victimhood and argue against narrow scientific definitions of victimhood which downplay a variety of health conditions attributed to the disaster. This article concludes that chronic crisis may not always be transformative, but reproduce the existing inequalities. It contributes to the anthropology of disaster and the anthropology of suffering by bringing together scholarship in feminist theory of disability and critical perspectives on development.

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