Living with Uncertainty, Struggling with Possibility: A Study on Radiation Effects from the Perspective of Atomic Bomb Survivors

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 7:00 PM
Room: Booth 60
Oral Presentation
Masaya NEMOTO , Hitotsubashi University, Japan
This paper will examine the reality of radiation effects from the point of view of Atomic Bomb survivors.

Radiation is a unique material which people cannot see, smell, and feel the touch of. But it can be harmful for human body. Today, especially since the horrific accident of Fukushima nuclear power plants in 2011, radiation and its effects on human have become a focal point in Japan and the world. Historically speaking, the issue of radiation and its effects has been studied predominantly in medical and physical fields. However, a study on narratives and life-stories of people exposed to radiation shows different aspects of this issue. First, in addition to actual health problems which radiation may cause, people frequently suffer from anxiety, fear, and distress about the possible effects of radiation. Moreover, their reality of radiation and its effects are often socially constructed through their interactions with medical and scientific knowledge. In this paper, I will explore the complex relationships between radiation, people, and science, through the narratives and life-stories of Atomic Bomb survivors from Hiroshima.

This paper will consist of three parts. First, I will briefly describe medical and scientific knowledge about the physical effects of radiation on human body. Second, by drawing on the survivors’ life-stories and narratives, I will illustrate how they have suffered from and struggled with their anxiety and distress, caused by the uncertainty of radiation. Lastly, I will examine how the survivors’ reality of radiation and scientific knowledge affect with each other.