Chernobyl as a Historical Caesura: Environment, Politics, and Science

Sophia Hörl's picture

Time: 9-10 December 2022

Location: University of Naples Federico II

Conveners: University of Naples Federico II (RCC alumna Elisabetta Plini), Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, and Harvard Ukrainian Institute

Over the last ten years, scholars have devoted an increased attention to the study of the role the Chernobyl (Ukr. Chornobyl’) disaster played from a political, social, cultural, and environmental point of view. In her seminal book A Manual for Survival, Kate Brown defined the incident and its aftermath as an unprecedented episode in human history with long-term consequences that are not yet fully evident even today. Starting with this insight, this conference aims at analyzing the Chernobyl disaster as a turning point in the late twentieth century not only for political and environmental history, but also for medicine and international cooperation, and for the human perception of nature and science.


The Departments of Social Sciences and of Humanities of the University of Naples Federico II, the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, and the Department of History of the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy are pleased to announce an open call for papers for the conference Chernobyl as a Historical Caesura: Environment, Politics, and Science to be held in Naples on 9-10 December 2022.

For our conference we seek papers that can speak (but are not limited) to the following questions:

- The ways in which the Chernobyl disaster reshaped political debates locally, nationally and internationally
- The impact it had on political regimes (including the Soviet Union) and on the emergence of environmental and eco-nationalist movements and parties.
- The consequences this accident had on debates about science and technology, as well as on debates about risk, health, and hazards.
- The ways in which it shaped debates about energy and environmental policies at a local, national and international level.
- The effects the Chernobyl events had on scientists’ political and civic engagement in the context of the late Cold War, and on their research concerning environmental issues and renewable forms of energy.
- The social and political consequences the Chernobyl calamity had on local populations and civil societies, in Ukraine and around the world.
- How the Chernobyl disaster is remembered locally, regionally, and internationally.
- The ways in which the incident contributed to the emergence of a global environmental awareness and the need for international research, activity and cooperation.

Please send a paper proposal of no more than 500 words, along with a 1-page CV, to Simone Attilio Bellezza ( and Elisabetta Bini ( by April 15, 2022. The program committee will notify applicants by May 31, 2022.

The conference language will be English. A selection of the papers will be published in an edited volume / special journal issue. Travel expenses will be covered and accommodation will be provided.

Scientific committee:
Simone Attilio Bellezza (University of Naples Federico II)
Elisabetta Bini (University of Naples Federico II)
Gabriella Corona (ISMED-CNR)
Christof Mauch (Rachel Carson Center, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)
Serhii Plokhy (Harvard University)
Natalia Shlikhta (National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy)

The conference is part of the National Research Project (PRIN 2017) Inventing the Global Environment: Science, Politics, Advocacy and the Environment-Development Nexus in the Cold War and Beyond.