Article ID: CBB959012966

A Site of Bounded Imaginaries: Local Narratives of Buan after Protests against a Nuclear Waste Repository (2021)


This paper examines a historical case where local residents in South Korea had been alienated from the decision-making processes in nuclear policy as their sociotechnical visions remained marginalized. Narratives of nuclear experts, activists in environmental NGOs (ENGOs), and local residents supporting or resisting against the siting of a repository in a southwestern rural town, Buan, from 2003 to 2005 were used for our comparative textual analyses. Imaginaries of desirable forms of life and order that constitute nationally-shared visions of “good society” profoundly delimit the shapes of futures by enabling key political decisions of a nation. With our findings, we argue that ethical problems of how to recognize and compensate for what has already happened to people around (candidate) sites of nuclear facilities remains a source of latent social conflict. Buan residents’ visions of a “good society” attainable through their practices around nuclear technology were collectively held and publicly narrated yet failed to become widely shared in the nation. If local people’s understanding of what the past has been and what the future should be like continue to stay marginalized, Korean nuclear governance with participatory initiatives will remain in its current form of “partial” inclusiveness.

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Authors & Contributors
McGonigle, Ian
Jasanoff, Sheila
Noam Bergman
Tehya Stockman
Roumbanis, Lambros
Debbie Hopkins
East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal
Social Studies of Science
Science, Technology, and Human Values
Engineering Studies
Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society
Duke University Press
Science and technology studies (STS)
Decision making
Citizen participation
Technology and society
Time Periods
21st century
20th century, late
Great Britain
South Korea
East Asia
United States
Malay; Malaysia
Industrial Technology Research Institute- ITRI
NTU Institute of Science and Technology for Humanity
Korea Institute of Science and Technology - KIST
National Science Foundation (U.S.)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT

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