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Collective memories of Chernobyl in Gävle, Sweden
University of Gävle, Faculty of Education and Business Studies, Department of Humanities. (Consuming the Environment)
2015 (English)In: Bridging Divides: Spaces of Scholarship and Practice in Environmental Communication, 2015Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Collective memories of Chernobyl in Gävle, Sweden Eva Aasen Ekstrand Department of humanities, University of Gävle, Sweden, Eva.Ekstrand@hig.se Abstract Collective memories of past environmental disasters, which could possibly anticipate and prevent similar future accidents, according to the saying 'never again', can be assumed to stimulate advocacy. But when and in what way is it relevant at all to speak of collective memory? In April 1986 the Swedish town of Gävle suffered a rainstorm which carried Cecium 134 and 137 from the damaged nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine. An area of 30 kilometers around Gävle was severely contaminated. Residents were informed by the authorities through media, although it took a few days for the residents to realize that they were exposed to invisible but dangerous radiation. The headlines wrote in large black letters on the casualties and that Sweden was threatened by disaster. This study is a synthesis of the results of a focus group doing “memory work” (Frigga Haug 1983) twentyseven years after the accident and analyses of oral and written memories that were collected by local players, the press and the local theater for the 25 year commemoration of the accident. In line with e.g. Witte’s Extended Parallel Process the memories act as witness to the lack of control over both the danger itself and of the respondents´ own fears. In the light of a broader historical and social context - of a dissolving industrial society- a collective memory begins to crystallize: of the residents as victims, of silent anxiety and of learned helplessness. The study's knowledge contribution is to recognize that collective memories as a potential counterforce requires some form of perceived efficacy. Keywords: Identity, learned helplessness, fear, storytelling, empowerment

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Identity, learned helplessness, danger control
National Category
Media and Communications
URN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-18622OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hig-18622DiVA: diva2:773865
The 2015 Conference on Communication and Environment :'Bridging Divides: Spaces of Scholarship and Practice in Environmental Communication', June 11-14, 2015, University of Colorado, Boulder, USA
Available from: 2014-12-19 Created: 2014-12-19 Last updated: 2015-11-20Bibliographically approved

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