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A chronotope of expansion: resisting spatio-temporal limits in a Kazakh nuclear town

Alexander, Catherine (2020) 'A chronotope of expansion: resisting spatio-temporal limits in a Kazakh nuclear town.', Ethnos: journal of anthropology .


This article starts by anatomising the various strategies used by the Soviet regime to contain and ‘disappear’ the nuclear weapon test site in Kazakhstan before moving on to outline attempts by the independent Republic of Kazakshtan's National Nuclear Centre (NNC) to be more open—including making much of the site available for commercial and agricultural use, after 25 years of remediation and monitoring. Juxtaposing these strategies with accounts from residents living in the town that hosts the NNC provides far more ambivalent engagements with both town and site. Thus, in what I call a chronotope of expansion, what appears is a resistance to any kind of spatial or temporal containment, a denial of progress and the possibility of moving to a brighter nuclear future by leaving behind the Soviet period and its entailments. I end by discussing the consequences of assumptions that the site can be limited and bounded in terms of radioactive contamination.

Item Type:Article
Full text:Publisher-imposed embargo
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Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution.
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Publisher statement:© 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons. org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:28 April 2020
Date of first online publication:30 July 2020
Date first made open access:12 August 2020

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