In the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, the Japanese state has assembled technologies of decontamination and monitoring that fundamentally reconfigured the environment, together with its human and non-human inhabitants. In the eight years since, civic organizations across Asia have enlisted citizen science to grapple with the uncertainties of radiation. In Iitate, a former evacuation zone and farming village, citizen scientists deploy novel technologies to engage the state in critical assessments of the risks of radiation, and thereby enact measures to protect returnees’ homes and families. In Tokyo, the Citizen’s Nuclear Information Center is one of the leading organizations calling for a “democratic science.” Since 1975 it has raised questions about the validity of nuclear safety and its inherent linkage to the arms race, especially through Japan’s reprocessing program which has created a massive stockpile of plutonium. In this talk, Dr. Caitlin Stronell and Dr. Man-kei Tam will interrogate the contrasting scientific lessons of Fukushima through drawing upon citizen and expert science enlisted as a basis for community revival in Iitate and the decades-long tradition of citizen science enacted by the Citizen’s Nuclear Information Center across Japan. Dr. Tam will discuss how, in Iitate, citizens and experts came together with villagers to experiment with new forms of life in a landscape still infused with radiation.
Dr. Caitlin Stronell is Senior Researcher with Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center (Tokyo) and a specialist on anti-nuclear movements in India and Japan. She is also a visiting professor at Musashino University and has taught at Tokyo Keizai University and Gifu Women’s University. Her PhD in Political Science is from JNU in New Delhi (2016). She is also an ordained Shinto priest.
Dr. Man-kei Tam’s research utilizes Science and Technology Studies and multispecies ethnography to examine how Japanese citizens attempt to engage the state in assessing radiation risks. He recently completed his PhD in Anthropology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2018. He is presently director of Amnesty International, Hong Kong.