Closing Keynote: Peter Wynn Kirby, University of Oxford, Waste Now, Forever Waste: Nuclear Residues in Japan and Beyond

Waste Now! His­tor­ies and Con­tem­por­al­it­ies of Dis­cards On­line Conference, 10 June 2021 (Thursday), 11 PM- 1 AM (June 11), Shanghai / 5 PM - 7 PM, Berlin / 11 AM - 1 PM, New York

Waste Now, Forever Waste: Nuclear Residues in Japan and Beyond 

This talk uses the triple-meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi and the subsequent ongoing clear-up of radioactive debris across the disaster zone to discuss the human dimensions of nuclear policy, their geographical and historical context, and elements of recycling ideology that relate to nuclear waste. The paper then considers related dimensions of nuclear waste policy, including varied approaches to deep repositories in particular fraught milieux. The interplay of specific cases and analysis of waste, infrastructures, and leakage points to important linked notions of time, transmission, risk, and forgetting. These help frame discussion of key ways that scholars conceive of waste and how popular thinking about waste has changed over time. 

Peter Wynn Kirby is a health/environmental specialist and ethnographer at the University of Oxford, where he is a Senior Member of Saint Antony's College, Oxford. Peter is also a High-End Overseas Visiting Fellow at Shanghai University. He holds a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge. For over 20 years, Peter has researched toxic pollution and recycling ideology in Japan, electronic waste scavenging in China, materialities, and nuclear waste policy in various key nations, among other themes.