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Risk state and democratic response: Nuclear politics in emerging Indonesia via Australian National University

The rise of Indonesia as a new economic powerhouse in Asia has one logical consequence: the growing demands for energy. One of the solutions the Indonesian government resort to for the issue of energy undersupply is nuclear power. The effort to develop nuclear energy as part of the national energy system dates back to the 1970s but not until recently it has received serious attention and considerable support from the central government.

The Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan apparently did not render Indonesia’s nuclear ambition to retreat. Despite a large-scale opposition against nuclear power drawn by a strong anti-nuclear movement, Jakarta remains eager to build nuclear power plants in order to turn Indonesia as the first Southeast Asian nation to have nuclear power capacity. Looking at the bewildering eagerness of the Indonesian state to build technological capacity for nuclear power production, this paper delves into the epistemological and institutional factors that underpin the state’s unfettered desire for nuclear power. The interplay between technoscience and hypergrowth impulses is critically discussed to understand how the magnitude of nuclear risk is thwarted by what this paper refers to as ‘institutionalised ignorance’.

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