Between ‘Greatness’ and ‘Ignorance’

The Transition to Nuclear Power in Turkey

in Anthropology of the Middle East
View More View Less
  • 1 Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique sezin.topcu@ehess.fr
Restricted access

Abstract

Focusing on Turkey's nuclearisation process, which has accelerated over the past decade, this article examines the historical and contemporary relationships that the country's political decision-makers maintain with risk, the environment and health and ecological disasters. While the transition to nuclear power in the post-Fukushima period is not a dynamic specific to Turkey, it nevertheless operates, in the Turkish case, in a particular geographic, energy and political context. On the one hand, Turkey is a highly seismic country that heavily depends on its neighbours for energy and, on the other, is experiencing a creeping political authoritarianism. This article focuses on the dynamics and specificities of this post-disaster nuclear transition, which will be analysed here as ‘serene nuclearism’, positioned as the polar opposite of ‘reflexive modernisation’, as theorised by Ulrich Beck.

Contributor Notes

Sezin Topçu is a historian and sociologist of technology, risk and social movements. Since 2011, she has been Senior Researcher at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, and a member of the Centre d'Étude des Mouvements Sociaux. In her research she focuses on energy, environment and reproductive health issues, including those related to anti-nuclear protest movements, nuclear controversies, post-disaster management and energy transitions. She is the author of La France nucléaire: L'art de gouverner une technologie contestée (2013), as well as several journal articles and scientific chapters on these topics. Email: sezin.topcu@ehess.fr

  • Abraham, I. (1998), The Making of the Indian Atomic Bomb: Science, Secrecy and the Postcolonial State (London: Zed Books).

  • Akbulut B., Adaman F. (2013), ‘The Unbearable Appeal of Modernization: The Fetish of Growth’, Perspectives Turkey 5: 1417.

  • Akkuyu Nükleer (2020), ‘Mersin Türkiye'nin enerjisine enerji katacak’ [Mersin will add energy to Turkey's energy], accessed 13 January, http://www.akkunpp.com/mersin-turkiyenin-enerjisine-enerji-katacak.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Aksam (2013), ‘Erdoğan'dan nükleer santral açıklaması’ [Erdoğan comments on nuclear power plants], 29 October, http://www.aksam.com.tr/siyaset/erdogandan-nukleer-santral-aciklamasi/haber-256626.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Allal, A., Deboulet, A., Le Blanc, N., Erdi, G., Massicard, E., Selek, P. and Topçu, S. (eds.) (2017), ‘Turquie autoritaire, Turquie contestataire’, special issue, Mouvements, 2, no. 90.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Anders, G. (2006), La Menace nucléaire: cCnsidérations radicales sur l'âge atomique (Paris: Serpent à Plumes).

  • Aykut, S., Evrard, A. and Topçu, S. (2017), ‘Au delà du consensus: L'impératif de la “transition énergétique” à l'épreuve du regard comparatif’, Revue internationale de politique compare 24, no. 1–2: 715.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Baser, B. and Erdi Öztürk, A. (2017), Authoritarian Politics in Turkey: Elections, Resistance and the AKP (London: I.B. Tauris).

  • Blanck, J. (2017) ‘Gouverner par le temps: La gestion des déchets radioactifs en France, entre changements organisationnels et construction de solutions techniques irréversibles (1950–2014)’ (PhD diss., Centre de Sociologie des Organisations, Sciences Po).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Beck, U. (2011), ‘Enfin l'ère postnucléaire’, Le Monde, 9 July 2011.

  • Beck, U. (1992), Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity (London: Sage).

  • Bianet (2013), ‘Basbakan Erdoğan: Bunun Fıtratında Var, Olagan Seyler’ (Prime Minister Erdoğan: Accidents are inherent in these affairs, these are run-of-the-mill incidents), 14 May, https://m.bianet.org/bianet/siyaset/155667-basbakan-erdogan-bunun-fitratinda-var-olagan-seyler.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Boilley, D. (2016), ‘Fukushima Five Years Later: Back to Normal?’ ACRO Report for Greenpeace Belgium.

  • Brown, P. (1992), ‘Popular Epidemiology and Toxic Waste Contamination: Lay and Professional Ways of Knowing’, Journal of Health & Social Behaviour 33, no. 3: 267281.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • CRC (Chernobyl Research Commission) (1994), Çernobil Arastırma Komisyonu Raporu [Report of the Chernobyl Research Commission] (Ankara: TBMM).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dedieu, F., Jouzel, J.-N. and Prete, G. (2015), ‘The Production and the Function of the Under-Reporting of Farmworkers’ Pesticide Poisoning in French and Californian Regulations’, in Routledge International Handbook of Ignorance Studies, (ed.) M. Gross and L. McGoey (London: Routledge), 297307.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ercan, F. and Oguz, S. (2015), ‘From Gezi Resistance to Soma Massacre: Capital Accumulation and Class Struggle in Turkey’, Socialist Register 51: 114135.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Farro, A.-L. and Demirhisar, D.-G. (2014), ‘The Gezi Park Movement: a Turkish Experience of the Twenty-First-Century Collective Movements’, International Review of Sociology 24, no. 1: 176189.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gross, M. and McGoey, L. (2015), ‘Introduction’, in Routledge International Handbook of Ignorance Studies, (ed.) M. Gross and L. McGoey (London: Routledge), 114.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gusterson, H. (1996), Nuclear Rites: A Weapons Laboratory at the End of the Cold War (Berkeley: University of California Press).

  • Hecht, G. (1998), Radiance of France: Nuclear Power and National Identity after World War II (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press).

  • Hecht, G. (2012), Being Nuclear: Africans and the Global Uranium Trade (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press).

  • Hirakawa, H. and Shirabe, M. (2015), ‘Rhetorical Marginalization of Science 
and Democracy: Politics in Risk Discourse on Radioactive Risks in Japan’, in Lessons from Fukushima: Japanese Case Studies on Science, Technology and Society, (ed.) Y. Fujigaki (Cham: Springer), 5786.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hürriyet (2011),‘Bakan Yıldız: Bekarlik nükleerden daha tehlikeli’ pMinister Yıldız: Single life is more dangerous than nuclear power], 4 April, http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/bakan-yildiz-bekarlik-nukleerden-daha-tehlikeli-17467718.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Insel, A. (2015), La nouvelle Turquie d'Erdoğan: Du rêve démocratique à la dérive autoritaire (Paris: La Découverte).

  • Kadirbeyoglu, Z. (2016), ‘Assessing the Efficacy of Transnational Advocacy Networks’, in Environmentalism in Turkey: Between Democracy and Development? (ed.) F. Adaman and M. Arsel (London: Routledge), 101116.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kasperski, T. (2017), ‘Une transition vers plus de nucléaire? Analyse comparée des politiques énergétiques russe et ukrainienne’, Revue Internationale de Politique Comparée 24, no. 1–2: 101125.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kingston, J. (2014), ‘Abe's Nuclear Renaissance: Energy Politics in Post 3.11 Japan’, Critical Asian Studies 46, no. 3: 461484.

  • Knudsen, S. (2015), ‘Protests against Energy Projects in Turkey: Environmental Activism Above Politics?British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 43, no. 3: 302323, https://doi.org/10.1080/13530194.2015.1102707.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kuchinskaya, O. (2014), Politics of Invisibility: Public Knowledge about Radiation Health Effects after Chernobyl (MA: MIT Press).

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • La Manche Libre (2017), ‘Flamanville: Tournage – “Comment vit-on autour d'une centrale?”’ [Flamanville: Filming – ‘How do we live around a power plant?’] 15 February, https://www.lamanchelibre.fr/actualite-271123-flamanville-tournage-comment-vit-on-autour-d-une-centrale.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Liberatore, A. (1999), The Management of Uncertainty: Learning from Chernobyl (Amsterdam: Gordon & Breach).

  • Livingston, H. D., Buesseler, K. O., Izdar, E. and Konuk, T. (1988), ‘Characteristics of Chernobyl Fallout in the Southern Black Sea’, in Radionuclides: A Tool for Oceanography, (ed.) J. C. Guary, P. Guegueniat and R. J. Pentreath (Essex: Elsevier), 304316.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McCulloch, J. and Tweedale, G. (2008), Defending the Indefensible: The Global Asbestos Industry and Its Fight for Survival (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MENR (Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources) (2015),‘Yeni Türkiye ve 2023 Enerji Politikalari’ [New Turkey: Energy policies for 2023], accessed 10 September 2018, http://www.enerji.gov.tr/tr-TR/Bakanlik-Haberleri/Yeni-Turkiye-ve-2023-Enerji-Politikalari.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Milliyet (1993), ‘Halk Yargilama istiyor’ [The people demand that they face trial], 1 January.

  • Milliyet (2015), ‘Müdür, Akkuyu'da zaaf var dedi istifa etti’ [Director resigns because of shortcomings at Akkuyu), 4 September.

  • Ming, Z., Yingxin, L., Shaojie, O., Hui, S. and Chunxue, L. (2016), ‘Nuclear Energy in the Post-Fukushima Era: Research on the Developments of the Chinese and Worldwide Nuclear Power Industries’, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 58: 147156.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MoH (Ministry of Health) (1993), Sağlık Bakanlığı Bilimsel Kurul Raporu ve Üniversite Görüşleri [Report from the Scientific Council and Opinions of Academics] (Ankara: Sağlık Bakanlığı).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MoH (Ministry of Health) (2006), Karadeniz Bölgesi Kanser ve Kanser Risk Faktörleri Araştırması [Research on cancer incidents and risk factors in the Black Sea region] (Ankara: Sağlık Bakanlığı).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • OdaTv (2014), ‘İdris Güllüce: “Putin'e jest olsa ne mahsuru var?”’ (İdris Güllüce: ‘Even if it was a gesture for Putin, what's the problem?’), 2 December, http://odatv.com/putine-jest-olsa-ne-mahsuru-var-0212141200.html.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Oreskes, N. and Conway, E. M. (2010), Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming (New York: Bloomsbury).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Otan, Ü. (1999), Nükleere Geçtik Masallah (We made our transition to nuclear energy, Maashallah) (Istanbul: Çınar Yayınları).

  • Özemre, A.-Y. (2012), Ah su atomdan neler cektim! (Oh, the atom really made me suffer!) (Istanbul: Pınar).

  • Özen, H. (2014), ‘Overcoming Environmental Challenges by Antagonizing Environmental Protesters: The Turkish Government Discourse against Anti-hydroelectric Power Plants Movements’, Environmental Communication 8, no. 4: 433451.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pala, K. (2006), ‘Hopa Kanser Görülme Sıklıgı: Tanı Konmus Olgular ve Ölümler Üzerinden Bir Degerlendirme (Cancer frequencies in Hopa: An evaluation over the diagnosed cases of morbidity and mortality)’, in Çernobil Nükleer Kazası Sonrası Türkiye'de Kanser (Cancer in Turkey in the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear accident), (ed.) Türk Tabipleri Birliği (Ankara: TTB Yayınları), 73102.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pérouse, J.-F. (2017), ‘Les événements de Gezi, ou le début de la “dérive autoritaire”, vu des périphéries’, Mouvements 2, no. 90: 109119.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Proctor, R. N. (2012), Golden Holocaust: Origins of the Cigarette Catastrophe and the Case for Abolition (Berkeley: University of California Press).

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Radikal (2015), ‘Akkuyu Nükleer santrali Ced raporunda sahte imza skandali’ [False signature scandal in the Akkuyu nuclear power plant environmental impact report], 12 January, http://www.radikal.com.tr/turkiye/akkuyu-nukleer-santrali-ced-raporunda-sahte-imza-skandali-1270315.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rayner, S. (2012), ‘Uncomfortable Knowledge: The Social Construction of Ignorance in Science and Environmental Policy Discourses’, Economy and Society 41, no. 1: 107125.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Szarka, J. (2013), ‘From Exception to Norm and Back Again? France, the Nuclear Revival and the Post-Fukushima Landscape’, Environmental Politics 22, no. 4: 646663.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Shin, H. (2017), ‘Risk Politics and the Pro-nuclear Growth Coalition in Japan in Relation to the Fukushima’, Energy & Environment 28, no. 4: 518529.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Star (2015), ‘Taner Yıldız: Paris'teki Turiste Bir Sey Olmuyor’ [Taner Yıldız Nothing happens to tourists in Paris], 10 May 2015, html https://www.star.com.tr/politika/taner-yildiz-paristeki-turiste-bir-sey-olmuyor-haber-1027762.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Terzioglu, A. (2016), ‘Rauchumschleierte Berge: Die Debatte um den Tschernobyl-Effekt in der Turkei’, in Politik und Gesellschaft nach Tschernobyl: (Ost-)Europäische Perspectiven, (ed.) M. Arndt (Berlin: Ch. Links Verlag), 104129.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Topçu, S. (2013a), La France nucléaire: L'art de gouverner une technologie contestée (Paris: Seuil).

  • Topçu S. (2013b), ‘Chernobyl Empowerment? Exporting Participatory Governance to Contaminated Territories’, in Toxicants, Health and Regulation since 1945, (ed.) S. Boudia and N. Jas (London Pickering & Chatto Publishers), 135158.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Topçu, S. (2013c), ‘Technosciences, Critique and Issues of Power: A Governmentality Approach’, Revue d'histoire moderne et contemporaine 60, no. 4/4bis: 7696.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Topçu, S. (2014), ‘Organiser l'irresponsabilité? La gestion (inter)nationale des dégâts d'un accident nucléaire comme régime discursif’, Ecologie & Politique 49: 95114.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Topçu, S. and Yalçın, M. (2017), ‘Transition énergétique turque: Analyseur d'un nouveau régime politique ?Revue internationale de politique comparée 24, nos 1–2: 127157.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • T24 (2014), ‘Akkuyu nükleer santraline yer lisansi davasi’ [Complaint about the building permit for the Akkuyu nuclear power plant], 5 February, http://t24.com.tr/haber/akkuyu-nukleer-santralina-yer-lisansi-davasi,250251.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • T24 (2017), ‘Erdoğan: Eyy Batı, sizin özgürlük diye bir derdiniz yok; özgürlük Avrasya Tüneli'nden Marmaray'dan geçer … ’ [Erdoğan: You, the West, don't care much about freedom; freedom flows through the Eurasia Tunnel, it flows through Marmaray], 19 January, http://t24.com.tr/haber/erdogan-eyy-bati-sizin-ozgurluk-diye-bir-derdiniz-yok-ozgurluk-avrasya-tunelinden-marmaraydan-gecer,384016.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Weart, S. (1989), Nuclear Fear: A History of Images (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press).

  • Wynne, B. (1996), ‘Misunderstood Misunderstandings: Social Identities and Public Uptake of Science’, in Misunderstanding Science? Public Reconstruction of Science and Technology, (ed.) A. Irwin and B. Wynne (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 1946.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Yarman, T. (2014), Geçmiste ve Bugün Nükleer Enerji Tartismasi (Past and present debates on nuclear energy) (Istanbul: Okan Universitesi Yayınları).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Yavuz, F. (2015), Beni Akkuyularda Merdivensiz Bıraktın: Türkiye'nin Nükleerle Imtihanı (You left me up the creek in Akkuyu: Turkey's test with nuclear energy) (Istanbul: Can).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

Metrics