zum Inhalt springen


“Japan’s Split Society: Discursive Constitution between the Atomic Bombs (genbaku) and Nuclear Power Plants (genpatsu)”

Since the nuclear catastrophe of March 2011, the name »Fukushima« is frequently written in hiragana or katakana syllabary – a hitherto unusual notation, which has so far been in use mostly for Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the two cities hit by atomic bombs in August 1945. »Hiroshima« and »Nagasaki« (symbolizing the atomic bomb genbaku) and »Fukushima« (pointing to nuclear energy genpatsu) mark the temporal horizon of this project. Its aim is to focus on the constitution process of the Japanese postwar society and culture in a new way from the perspective of the »atom«. It assumes that the discourse on »Hiroshima«, »Nagasaki«, and »Fukushima«, which oscillates between the negative and positive aspects of nuclear energy, is a crucial element in the atomic dispositive, which coined the postwar order in Japan and beyond. By reexamining the discursive practices, their various actors, the project aims to uncover their (vertical and horizontal) historical interdependence, rivaling forces at work, and the resulting cracks in the dispositive, which are challenging the established regimes of knowledge now more than ever. Its task is to uncover the sociocultural contexts contributing to the formation and dominance of the atomic dispositive, which became dominant in a certain regime of growth and energy and which is contested more and more today.

This task is operationalized in two sub-projects which are interwoven in methods and content, focusing on both dimensions of nuclear energy (genbaku and genpatsu). Both sub-projects will utilize discourse analysis to show how texts and images re-present and articulate the atom, how they include/exclude, homogenize/marginalize.

Sub-project 1 on »literary articulations of the atomic« focuses on literary representations of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. At the same time, it looks for structural similarities between the discursive end-points of the timeframe set for the project, taking into account new media as forceful constituents of identities. Sub-project 2 on »articulations of the nuclear in everyday life and visual language« deals with visual representations/documentaries of »peaceful nuclear power« (genpatsu), which is distinguished from genbaku analytically in order to uncover the logic of dichotomization at work between these two inseparably interwoven energy forms. It analyzes the mechanisms by which genpatsu has invaded everyday life as “Nukesspeak” to contribute in turn to the formation of the atomic dispositive.