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Urban nuclear reactors and the security theatre: the making of atomic heritage in Chicago, Moscow and Stockholm
Linköping University, Department of Thematic Studies, Technology and Social Change. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0553-1295
Stockholms universitet.
Kingston university, London.
2019 (English)In: Securing urban heritage: agents, access, and securitization / [ed] Heike Oevermann, Eszter Gantner, London: Routledge, 2019, p. 111-129Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

During and immediately after the Second World War, physicists and engineers in several countries worked intensively and in competition to develop nuclear weapons and to control the chain reaction creating nuclear energy. An experience of urgency and a sense of revolutionary future promise permeated the activities and largely outweighed the risks as they were calculated at the time. As a result, small experimental reactors were built at research institutes or universities relatively close to city centres and densely populated areas—the key localization factor being the physicists’ own geography. This chapter focuses on three of the early pioneering urban reactors, located in Chicago, Moscow, and Stockholm, which were all symbols of national prowess as humanity was entering the nuclear age, and later became objects of heritage processes. We scrutinize the early operations as well as the making of atomic heritage, through the conceptual lens of the ‘security theatre’. The concept highlights the relationship between, on the one hand, calculable risk and security, and on the other hand, perceived risk and security. We argue that, overall, the security theatre displays reversed characteristics if comparing the establishment period with the processes of heritagization in the way that the calculable risks were initially high but downplayed, while subsequently being low but exaggerated. This tension between calculable risk and perceived risk, we suggest, forms the key to the attraction of contemporary atomic heritage. This chapter is based on historic and contemporary written and visual sources, together with interviews and on-site visits.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London: Routledge, 2019. p. 111-129
National Category
History of Technology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-171163Libris ID: 9pnmwk2x7ffpsqw9ISBN: 9780367148430 (print)ISBN: 9780429053559 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-171163DiVA, id: diva2:1499151
Funder
Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, P16-0684Available from: 2020-11-06 Created: 2020-11-06 Last updated: 2024-04-15Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
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  • nn-NB
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More languages
Output format
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  • asciidoc
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