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Sezin Topçu

This article adduces evidence of the central role played by scientists in the 1970s and “lay persons” in the post-Chernobyl period in the production and legitimation of alternative types of knowledge and expertise on the environmental and health risks of nuclear energy in France. From a constructivist perspective, it argues that this shift in the relationship of “lay persons” to knowledge production is linked not only to the rise of mistrust vis-à-vis scientific institutions but also, and especially, to a change in the way they have reacted to “dependency” on institutions and to “state secrecy”. Counter-expertise is constructed as a politics of surveillance where alternative interpretations of risk are buttressed by a permanent critique of the epistemic assumptions of institutional expertise. The identity of “counter-expert” is socially elaborated within this process.

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Between 'Greatness' and 'Ignorance'

The Transition to Nuclear Power in Turkey

Sezin Topçu

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.