Event – Nuclear Ghost: Atomic Livelihoods in Fukushima’s Gray Zone

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November for NicHE - 2023 Fundraising Campaign

Nuclear Ghost: Atomic Livelihoods in Fukushima’s Gray Zone

In-person  |  November 17, 2023 | 4:00PM – 6:00PM EDT

Room 108N, North House, 1 Devonshire Place, Toronto, ON, M5S 3K7

Sponsored by Dr. David Chu Program in Asia-Pacific Studies, Asian Institute; Centre for Study for Global Japan; Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy
Nuclear Ghost: Atomic Livelihoods in Fukushima's Gray Zone book talk


“There is a nuclear ghost in Minamisōma.” This is how one resident describes a mysterious experience following the 2011 nuclear fallout in coastal Fukushima. Investigating the nuclear ghost among the graying population, Morimoto encounters radiation’s shapeshifting effects. What happens if state authorities, scientific experts, and the public disagree about the extent and nature of the harm caused by the accident? In one of the first in-depth ethnographic accounts of coastal Fukushima written in English, Nuclear Ghost tells the stories of a diverse group of residents who aspire to live and die well in their now irradiated homes. Their determination to recover their land, cultures, and histories for future generations provides a compelling case study for reimagining relationality and accountability in the ever-atomizing world.

Ryo Morimoto

Ryo Morimoto

Assistant Professor of Anthropology and the Richard Stockton Bicentennial Preceptor, Princeton University

Shiho Satsuka

Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto
Associate Chair, Undergraduate, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto

Tong Lam

Tong Lam

Director, Dr. David Chu Program in Asia-Pacific Studies, Asian Institute
Associate Professor, Department of Historical Studies, UTM


Ryo Morimoto is a first-generation college graduate and scholar from Japan and an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Princeton University. His scholarly work addresses the planetary impacts of our past and present engagements with nuclear things. His second book project explores the U.S-Japan transnational history of disaster robots and an ethnography of decommissioning robots in coastal Fukushima. Ryo is a facilitator of the Native undergraduate students-led project Nuclear Princeton.

Discussant: Shiho Satsuka is interested in the politics of knowledge, environment, nature, science, and capitalism. She examines how divergent understandings of nature are produced, circulated, encountered, contested, and transformed in relation to the global expansion of capitalism. She is currently working on her second book project, tentatively entitled The Charisma of Mushrooms: Undoing the Long Twentieth Century.The project explores the possibilities of mushroom science to realize interspecies entanglements, dissolve the twentieth-century style state-science-industrial complex, and explore the possibility of co-habitation of various human and nonhuman beings on the earth. In particular, the project traces interspecies encounters in satoyama forest revitalization movements inspired by the charisma of matsutake, the politics of translation between various scientific and other forms of knowledge, as well as the emergence of “new commons.” This research is funded by a SSHRC Insight Grant and is a part of the collaborative, multi-sited ethnographic project, “Matsutake Worlds.” Satsuka was a Carson Fellow at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Germany in 2012.

Chair: Tong Lam is an Associate Professor in the Department of Historical Studies and the Graduate Department of History and Director of the Dr. David Chu Program in Asia-Pacific Studies at the Asian Institute. His current book-length study employs lenses of media studies, environmentalism, and science and technology studies (STS) to examine the politics and poetics of mobilization in China’s special zones in the socialist and postsocialist eras. As a visual artist, Lam has utilized his lens-based work to uncover hidden evidence of state- and capital-precipitated violence—both fast and slow—across various contexts. At present, his research-based visual projects particularly delve into the intersection between technology and military violence, as well as the landscapes of industrial and postindustrial ruination.  

Sponsor:  Dr. David Chu Program in Asia Pacific Studies, Asian Institute

Co-Sponsor: Centre for the Study for Global Japan

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