Sarcophagus: Chernobyl in Historical Light

Essay Excerpt

In the following pages, I will guide the reader through a tour of a post-Chernobyl social imaginary, a theater of images let loose after an invisible catastrophe, summoning the social body to experience it as a turning point in history. I document a series of encounters with multigenerational Ukrainian informants to explore their experiences of the Chernobyl disaster within perceptions of historical truth. How did they experience history and Soviet state power before and after Chernobyl? How did they settle back into their bodies? What does it mean to be alive in a heavily contaminated environment controlled by science and the sovereign power of the state? These questions are the underlying basis for comprehending how individuals navigate the shock of a nuclear disaster. As an ethnographer of Ukrainian-American background, I come face-to-face with the strangeness of the disaster in light of my family's migration from Ukraine (196).

Petryna, Adriana. "Sarcophagus: Chernobyl in Historical Light." Cultural Anthropology 10.2(1995): 196–220.

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