Astrid Mignon Kirchhof & Jan-Henrik Meyer (Eds.): Global Protest against Nuclear Power. Transfer and Transnational Exchange in the 1970s and 1980s Protest against nuclear power plants, uranium mining and nuclear testing was a major mobilizing force in the rise of mass environmental movements in the 1970s and 1980s around the globe. Nevertheless, the historiography of anti-nuclear protest remains largely limited to national stories about heroic conflict and the rise of movements. The contributions to this focus issue explore the so far under-researched transnational dimension of the conflict in a global perspective. They make visible for the first time relevant transfers of scientific knowledge and protest practices as well as transnational exchange between activists and experts from Western Europe, the United States and Australia. Rather than taking transnational interaction for granted, the authors explore the conditions facilitating and hampering the transfer of ideas. They analyse why only certain activists were committed and able to cross borders, as well as the obstacles they were facing. Thus, this focus issue contributes to current academic debates in environmental history, the history of social movements as well as global and transnational history.
"While the site occupation at Wyhl in 1975 is usually considered the symbolic birthplace of the West German anti-nuclear movement, it may also serve as the starting point for a transnational history of anti-nuclear protest. Local cross-border cooperation among protesters at Wyhl deeply impressed those anti-nuclear activists in the mid-1970s who considered nuclear power a global problem and encouraged them to take their protest to the international level. The central argument of this article is that protest directed against international organizations (IOs) - notably the European Communities (EC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) provided a crucial catalyst for transnational cooperation among anti-nuclear activists. Targeting IOs as the key promoters of nuclear power on a global scale, anti-nuclear activists cooperated across borders organizing protest events. Their goal was to challenge the IOs and win back the public on the issue across borders. Based on multi-archival research, this article analyzes five transnational protest events between 1975 and 1978 in Western Europe. Findings suggest that continued cooperation led to the emergence of a transnational anti-nuclear network and facilitated transnational transfers of scientific expertise and protest practices." (author's abstract)
"In the 1970s and 1980s, 70 per cent of uranium deposits extracted worldwide was situated on the land of indigenous populations whose cultures and physical well-being were threatened by the mining activities. Nevertheless, bowing to the need for supply security which had become its primary concern in the wake of the oil crisis, the German government declared nuclear energy to be safe and secure. Under the motto 'Leave uranium in the ground', representatives of the West-German Green Party faction gave a voice to representatives of indigenous populations from various countries. In this article, I will discuss the hypothesis that, although international anti-nuclear and disarmament issues in the 1970s offered the basis for a global and transnational collective activist identity, this identity was more frequently negotiated in the respective national arenas. Rather than building on the involvement of movement activists, cross-border exchange was mostly established by, and often limited to, leading figures, prominent thinkers, institutions and alternative media. Besides these obstacles, a number of channels for transnational exchange, the transfer of information and ideas did in fact exist and the level of communication (albeit not so much cooperation) was significant, considering that the internet and other technical means were not yet available to bring the world more closely together." (author's abstract)
This article uses the debate over environmental and human health effects of nuclear testing to shed light on the ambivalent relationship between scientists, the public, and the state in Britain during the crucial, but often overlooked, period leading up to the first cycle of anti-nuclear weapons mass protests. In this, it examines how members of Britain's main organization of nuclear scientists – the Atomic Scientists’ Association (ASA) – used their expertise in their engagement with both the public and the state to assess these effects of fallout from nuclear testing. What made the ASA stand out from other groups of the atomic scientists’ movement was its ambivalent relationship with the government. This was, by and large, the result of several ASA members’ occupational backgrounds in government employment and the association's self-imposed adherence to an ambiguous principle of scientific ‘objectivity’ in political matters. The ASA's role in the debate over fallout thus exemplifies a basic dilemma that many scientists in Britain and other Western liberal democracies faced between their roles as ‘objective’ and ‘unpolitical’ scientific experts, on the one hand, and socially responsible scientists, on the other, illustrating the ambivalent position of experts and uses of their knowledge.
This book analyses the economic history of the nuclear program in Spain, from its inception in the 1950s to the nuclear moratorium in the early 1980s, and investigates the economic, financial and business origins of atomic energy in Spain. The actual dimension of the Spanish nuclear sector, which exceeded the relative economic and political clout of the country at the time, reflects the combination of domestic and foreign interests. Each contribution inserts the Spanish case within the international development of nuclear energy, but also shows how the Spanish nuclear program came about, how it was financed, and who the main architects and beneficiaries at the industrial, financial, commercial and banking levels were; all without losing sight of the energy policy aspects such as energy mix and energy security. The volume provides useful analysis and sources for a variety of core fields across the social sciences including economic history of post-war Europe, industrial and energy policy, international relations and history of technology.
Nuclear energy is a complex technology, which requires a very intensive use of resources and very centralized decision-making, whose governance poses a real challenge for democratic societies. This article explores social perceptions about nuclear energy in Spain from an analysis of opinion polls and the arguments of actors from three case studies (Vandellós I, Valdecaballeros and ATC). The results show how the arguments of some actors are based on different dimensions of risk, often ignored in the surveys and by several of the actors, which supposes a serious difficulty to overcome the controversies raised by this type of energy.