"Atomized Truth: Undone science and institutional ignorance in the Fukushima nuclear disaster" by Thierry Ribault

This presentation aims to test the concept of agnotology, for which the paradigm is the tobacco industry (R. Proctor 2016), in the nuclear domain, particularly in the context of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and in so doing interrogates the creation of knowledge and ignorance in science and nuclear technology. Discussion focuses on the nature, place, and role of knowledge in a nuclear society, and aims to delineate the critical articulation between knowledge production and human protection. The case of the Fukushima nuclear disaster is the central “empirical experience” mobilized. In particular, the presentation examines the hypothesis of “organized ignorance” in the institutional production of nuclear knowledge within scientific institutions and regulatory agencies in charge of public health protection, while interrogating the epistemological and political consequences of agnotology as a governing strategy. The empirical material will originate in the field research carried out in Japan over the six years since the disaster with the support structure of the research network Ribault developed with the creation of the CNRS International Associated Laboratory “Human Protection and Responses to Disaster.” 

Thierry Ribault is Chargé de recherche at CLERSE – Centre Lillois d’Etudes et de Recherches
Sociologiques et Economiques of the University of Lille 1. Ribault is also Scientific Director of the
CNRS-InSHS International Associated Laboratory (LIA) "Human Protection and Responses to Disaster - Intensive Care in Industrial Societies.” He holds a Ph.D in Applied Economics from the University of Lille. His research focuses on issues of vulnerability, human security, empowerment, risk paradigm, nuclear social studies, nuclear controversies, socio-politics of knowledge and ignorance.

This colloquium is co-sponsored by the School for Future of Innovation in Society, the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, and the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

Monday, October 23, 12:30 - 2:00 p.m.
COOR 5536
Coor Hall