Early-Career Scholar Forum

Wild Boar Chase Half-Life Politics of Nuclear Things, and a Multispecies Collaboration of Contamination & Containment in Coastal Fukushima

Friday, 19 February 2021 | 12:15 - 13:00 (JST)
Zoom Meeting
  • Ryo Morimoto Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Princeton University
  • Takeo Hoshi Professor, Graduate School of Economics, The University of Tokyo

In this talk, I examine the half-life politics of nuclear things by focusing on local residents’ uncanny encounters with wild boars in their abandoned homes. Lurking out of the deep woods, boars have conquered the evacuated land that the government has been using to store decontaminated waste. But local residents have come to identify these nemeses of civilization as surrogate bodies that are metaphorically linked with their own bodies, using the boars to imagine a potential life in their now-unfamiliar radioactive hometown. At the same time, as decontamination efforts progress, locals come to see the hunting down and disposal of boars—a process that transforms the boars from irradiated life to radioactive waste—as the contradictory emblem of recovery. Tracing the wild boars’ lives and deaths in relation to people’s shifting conceptualization of “nature,” “contamination” and “safety” illustrates local residents’ struggles to resist the banal physiological and psychological violence that low-dose radiation exposure has imposed on their sense of wellbeing, and their efforts to negotiate an alternative ecological future of the aftermath.