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Anthropology and Public HealthBridging Differences in Culture and Society$
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Robert A Hahn and Marcia Inborn

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195374643

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195374643.001.0001

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Biological Citizenship After Chernobyl

Biological Citizenship After Chernobyl

Chapter:
(p.623) 22 Biological Citizenship After Chernobyl
Source:
Anthropology and Public Health
Author(s):

Adriana Petryna

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195374643.003.0023

This chapter examines the social and political impact of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor explosion from the perspective of radiation monitoring, clinical practices of radiation medicine, and compensation strategies. The experiences of workers of the contaminated zone and their transit through scientific research centers, public health bureaucracies, and activist organizations are documented. Together, these institutions mediate an informal economy of illness and claims to “biological citizenship”—a massive demand for, but selective access to, a form of social welfare based on scientific and legal criteria that both acknowledges injury and compensates for it. In the effort to map environmental contamination, to measure individual and population-wide exposures, and to arbitrate claims of illness, public health policies have recast the Chernobyl aftermath as a complex political and technical experience, with its own bureaucratic and legal contours which contributes to an increase of illness claims and social suffering.

Keywords:   Chernobyl, biological citizenship, social suffering, anthropology of disaster

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