Anxious Care: Radioactive Uncertainty and the Politics of Life in Post-Nuclear Japan


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Cultural Anthropology


This project investigates what conceptions of “life” are re/produced in a risky environment after the 2011 Fukushima meltdown in Japan. Despite the striking visibility of “Fukushima children” as the signature victims of the disaster in risk politics, there is little research on actual families who are raising children amidst post-Fukushima radiation. By studying the strivings of families who seek to raise healthy children in differentially exposed towns of Fukushima, this project examines how livability is created despite and through radioactive uncertainty. What constitutes “life” when it continues amidst chronic exposure to radiation? How can such life be made livable and in what sense? What are the implications of new forms of care and relations around a child imperiled by radiation? Exploring these questions ethnographically, this project argues that notions of life are undergoing a moment of reconfiguration in post-nuclear Japan both by real-life families and the family form.