Geographies of Nuclear Energy. An Introduction.

  • Alicia Gutting
  • Prof. Per Högselius
  • Prof. Teva Meyer
  • Dr. Melanie Mbah
    Research Coordinator for Transdisciplinary Studies Nuclear Engineering & Facility Safety
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Published in: Historical Social Research 49 (2024) 1

Nuclear energy has long attracted the attention of scholars in the humanities and social sciences. With this HSR Special Issue, we would like to push the scholarly frontier by highlighting the geographies of nuclear energy in the past and present. Nuclear energy is inherently interwoven with geography. We argue that to fully appreciate and grasp nuclear energy’s geographical and spatial dimensions, approaches from a range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary fields are needed. This special issue thus includes contributions from history, geography, political science, technology assessment, science and technology stud-ies (STS), and other fields. This article introduces this topic by outlining the state of the art of the geographies of nuclear energy and discusses different conceptual frameworks of how to understand nuclear-space interactions. In addition, the individual articles in this issue are briefly presented here and discussed within the research context. The articles themselves cover the geography of nuclear energy from beginning to end: from the mining of uranium, the planning and construction of nuclear power plants, the formation of public resistance, and the cooling of nuclear energy sites as well as the evolution of research centres and, last but not least, the political control and storage of nuclear waste. The collection of articles published here were part of the double session “Geographies of Nuclear Energy,” presented at the RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2021, and of the session “Atomic Rivers,” presented at the ESEH Conference 2023.