Posthumanist Perspectives and the Chernobyl Disaster: Dances of Agency, Temporal Emergence, and Disaster Risk Management

August 2016 (VOL. 34, NO. 2)

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This article applies the philosophical perspective of posthumanism to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. A posthumanist perspective attempts to break with the notion of human exceptionalism by recognising the performative agency of the non-human. It is maintained that such an approach is necessary to understanding how the disaster occurred in the first place, the calamitous initial responses the disaster, and its long-term consequence – including the environmental restoration that has occurred in the exclusion zone. Indeed, it is argued that much of the previous literature on the disaster takes the perspective of human exceptionalism, which has led to a failure to accurately interpret how the disaster unfolded and how it continues to emerge.