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Chernobyl as a post-Soviet memory space How ideas of progress and fear shaped a nuclear heritage site

What Chernobyl means to different people has dramatically changed over time. Today, its image mostly invokes fear of radiation, illness, as well as uncertainty. The ruins of the plant are regarded as a somewhat unpredictable source of danger that needs constant attention and monitoring. This is a remarkable historical change from how Chernobyl used to be seen. Before 1986, the construction of Ukraine’s first major nuclear power plant symbolized progress and the hope for a better future. In light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and recent media coverage of nuclear energy in this context, Chernobyl has truly become a memory space, serving as a place for projections of a multitude of attitudes regarding nuclear safety, catastrophe, war, maintenance and negligence.

Essay by Achim Klüppelberg January 18, 2023