Resilience in Fukushima: Contribution a Political Economy of Consent via Sage Alternatives: Global, Local, Political

By Thierry Ribault


This article is a contribution to the political economy of consent based on the analysis of speeches, declarations, initiatives, and policies implemented in the name of resilience in the context of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. It argues that, in practice as much as in theory, resilience fuels peoples’ submission to an existing reality—in the case of Fukushima, the submission to radioactive contamination—in an attempt to deny this reality as well as its consequences. The political economy of consent to the nuclear, of which resilience is one of the technologies, can be grasped at four interrelated analytical levels adapted to understanding how resilience is encoded in key texts and programs in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi accident. The first level is technological: consent through and to the nuclear technology. The second level is sociometabolic: consent to nuisance. The third level is political: consent to participation. The fourth level is epistemological: consent to ignorance. A fifth cognitivo-experimental transversal level can also be identified: consent to experimentation, learning and training. We first analyze two key symptoms of the despotism of resilience: its incantatory feature and the way it supports mutilated life within a contaminated area and turns disaster into a cure. Then, we show how, in the reenchanted world of resilience, loss opens doors, that is, it paves the way to new “forms of life”: first through ignorance-based disempowerment; second through submission to protection. Finally, we examine the ideological mechanisms of resilience and how it fosters a government through the fear of fear. We approach resilience as a technology of consent mobilizing emotionalism and conditioning on one side, contingency and equivalence on the other.

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