Narrative, Nonfiction, and the Nuclear Other: Western Representations of Chernobyl in the Works of Adam Higginbotham, Serhii Plokhy, and Kate Brown

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dc.contributor.author Sukhenko, Inna
dc.contributor.author Ulanowicz, Anastasia
dc.date.accessioned 2020-06-04T08:33:02Z
dc.date.available 2020-06-04T08:33:02Z
dc.date.issued 2020-03-30
dc.identifier.citation Sukhenko , I & Ulanowicz , A 2020 , ' Narrative, Nonfiction, and the Nuclear Other: Western Representations of Chernobyl in the Works of Adam Higginbotham, Serhii Plokhy, and Kate Brown ' , Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies , vol. 6 , no. 2 .
dc.identifier.other PURE: 126565779
dc.identifier.other PURE UUID: 81ea3f11-f4da-42b9-99bd-923e267bcd72
dc.identifier.other ORCID: /0000-0003-1295-2271/work/75565109
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10138/315742
dc.description.abstract The essay intends to demonstrate how three recent works of non-fiction authored by Western journalists and scholars—Adam Higginbotham’s Midnight in Chernobyl (2019), Plokhy’s Chernobyl: The History of a Nuclear Catastrophe (2018), and Kate Brown’s Manual For Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future (2019)—resist “great man” modes of historiography in order to expose the underlying structural causes and consequences of the Chernobyl disaster. Insofar as they do so, these texts also posit Chernobyl as an event—a literal and figurative historical flashpoint—that was at once an effect of the Cold War and a cause of its conclusion. And yet, although the three studies uphold the central thesis that the massive and unwieldy “Soviet system itself” was largely responsible for the Chernobyl event and in turn the unravelling of the Cold War, they nevertheless arrive at this conclusion through discrete narratives and notably different methodologies. Journalist Higginbotham’s largely omniscient and chronological account of the catastrophe focuses primarily on the consequences of post-1970’s era Soviet “gigantomania” and the subsequent influences of Western “hard” and “soft” diplomacy in mitigating the disaster; Ukrainian-American scholar Plokhy’s history of the event, explicitly framed by the perspective of a [post-] Soviet emigré, calls attention to how “eco-nationalist” movements that emerged within the post-Chernobyl Soviet Union contributed to its implosion; and environmental historian Kate Brown’s own narrative places into relief her immediate position as an American scholar-traveler in order to expose the relationship between a socio-geographically localized event and Cold War-era nuclear policies that at once were contained by and transgressed geo-political borders. Read together, these three Western works of non-fiction offer a prismatic image of Chernobyl’s spatio-temporal role in the proceedings of and ultimate conclusion to the Cold War. Moreover, and just as crucially, these texts also progressively unsettle overdetermined, triumphalist Western narratives of the Cold War that dwell exclusively on the failures of Soviet nuclear ventures and thus posit the USSR as the West’s “nuclear Other.” en
dc.language.iso eng
dc.relation.ispartof Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies
dc.rights unspecified
dc.rights.uri info:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess
dc.subject 6122 Literature studies
dc.subject non-fiction, factual, nuclear narrative, Cold War narrative
dc.title Narrative, Nonfiction, and the Nuclear Other: Western Representations of Chernobyl in the Works of Adam Higginbotham, Serhii Plokhy, and Kate Brown en
dc.type Article
dc.contributor.organization Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS)
dc.contributor.organization North American Studies
dc.contributor.organization Helsinki Institute of Urban and Regional Studies (Urbaria)
dc.contributor.organization Department of Cultures
dc.description.reviewstatus Peer reviewed
dc.rights.accesslevel openAccess
dc.type.version acceptedVersion
dc.identifier.url https://www.assayjournal.com/inna-sukhenko-and-anastasia-ulanowicz-narrative-nonfiction-and-the-nuclear-other-western-representations-of-chernobyl-in-the-works-of-adam-higginbotham-serhii-plokhy-and-kate-brown.html

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