Atomic Energy and the Arrogance of Man: Revisiting the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster

Atomic Energy and the Arrogance of Man: Revisiting the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster

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Serhii Plokhii 

Ukrainian Research Institute, Harvard University

December 6, 2019 / 7.00 pm

The Institute for Human Sciences (IWM), Spittelauer Lände 3, Vienna/Austria

On the morning of April 26, 1986, the world witnessed the worst nuclear disaster in history: the explosion of a reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Soviet Ukraine. Dozens died of radiation poisoning, fallout contaminated half the continent, and thousands fell ill. In his lecture, Serhii Plokhii draws on new sources to lay bare the flaws of the Soviet nuclear industry, tracing the disaster to the authoritarian character of Communist party rule, the regime’s control of scientific information, and its emphasis on economic development over all else. Today, the risk of another Chernobyl, claims Plokhii, looms in the mismanagement of nuclear power in the developing world.


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Serhii Plokhii

is the Mykhailo Hrushevsky Professor of Ukrainian History and the director of the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University. His book, Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy received the 2018 Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction, and the 2019 Pushkin House Prize. His latest book is Forgotten Bastards of the Eastern Front: An Untold Story of World War II (London: Penguin, 2019).      


The keynote lecture by Serhii Plokhii is part of the conference Between Kyiv and Vienna: Histories of People, Ideas, and Objects in Circulation and Motion which takes place at the IWM from December 4 to 7, 2019.

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Image Gallery by Johannes Hloch