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dc.contributor.authorTakahashi, Makoto
dc.description.abstractG.K. Chesterton famously claimed that ‘art, like morality, consists in drawing the line someplace’. So too does much of radiological protection. At every turn, those responding to the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster can be found drawing lines, which determine: where people can live, what they can eat, and who receives additional protections (Potassium Iodide pills, for example). The essential questions of radiological protection pertain to how these lines are drawn. Questions regarding who has the authority to draw these lines, where, and on what basis are well recognised by scholars in this field. But those who advise on such issues in Japan today face an additional complication, in that the disaster has dramatically damaged the public’s confidence in experts. My interest lies in how actors interpret and narrate this political situation, and how expert bodies adapt to these conditions by improvising new performances of their credibility. This thesis examines how claims to expert authority are made in conditions of low public trust; focusing on the debates surrounding civilian radiation exposure in Japan. In so doing, it contributes to the disciplines of Political Geography and Science and Technology Studies (STS), as well as scholarship on nuclear politics and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster, specifically. As the most severe radiological event since Chernobyl, this disaster has been selected for study on the basis of both its historic quality and its effect on the public perception of experts. Over four substantive chapters, this thesis uses the idiom of ‘improvisation’ to evoke the ‘performed resourcefulness’ of its actors; moving from an examination of actors’ competing efforts to ‘set the scene’ through their narrations of their disaster, to an ethnographic focus on how the prosaic performance of expert authority is adapted to reflect and influence these broader narratives. This thesis is organised thematically. Chapter Two outlines the methodological approach of the text, which draws on interviews, textual analysis, and participant observation, conducted over 11 months of residential fieldwork. Chapter Three examines the spatial metaphors actors use to frame the nuclear disaster, thereby framing the experience of radiation exposure. Chapter Four builds on the preceding chapter, exploring how the role of experts has been narrated in relation to the disaster’s imagined geographies. In particular, I examine how the common notion of Japan’s public debate as a battle against the irrational fear of radiation – to be fought by experts, who are to teach the public to “fear correctly” (tadashiku kowagaru) – is imbricated in the imagination of Fukushima as a national crisis. Moving from the macrosocial to the microsocial, Chapters Five and Six provide ethnographic accounts of expert workshops staged in Fukushima by two authoritative bodies: the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) and the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP). Both, I contend, are not only understudied organisations, but provide case studies in improvisation: the constitution of their workshop spaces being altered to reflect the organiser’s understandings of the disaster and the broader political situation.
dc.rightsAll Rights Reserved
dc.subjectScience Policy
dc.subjectFukushima Daiichi
dc.subjectNuclear disaster
dc.titleThe Improvised Expert: Performing authority after Fukushima (2011-2018)
dc.type.qualificationnameDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)
dc.publisher.institutionUniversity of Cambridge
dc.type.qualificationtitleThe Improvised Expert: Performing authority after Fukushima (2011-2018)
pubs.funder-project-idESRC (1560363)
cam.supervisorJeffrey, Alex

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