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Radiation Brain Moms and Citizen Scientists: The Gender Politics of Food Contamination after Fukushima


by Aya Hirata Kimura (Author)

Following the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster in 2011 many concerned citizens—particularly mothers—were unconvinced by the Japanese government’s assurances that the country’s food supply was safe. They took matters into their own hands, collecting their own scientific data that revealed radiation-contaminated food. In Radiation Brain Moms and Citizen Scientists Aya Hirata Kimura shows how, instead of being praised for their concern about their communities’ health and safety, they faced stiff social sanctions, which dismissed their results by attributing them to the work of irrational and rumor-spreading women who lacked scientific knowledge. These citizen scientists were unsuccessful at gaining political traction, as they were constrained by neoliberal and traditional gender ideologies that dictated how private citizens—especially women—should act. By highlighting the challenges these citizen scientists faced, Kimura provides insights into the complicated relationship between science, foodways, gender, and politics in post-Fukushima Japan and beyond.

Editorial Reviews


“Riveting and smart, Radiation Brain Moms and Citizen Scientists tracks the efforts made by citizens in post-Fukushima Japan to ensure the safety of their food from radioactive contamination. In the face of state neglect and criticism from fellow Japanese, these initiatives display a ‘soft’ boldness (versus activist politics). Interweaving stories of citizen scientists and ‘radiation brain moms’ with sharp theoretics that deconstruct the entanglements of science, neoliberalism, and postfeminism at work, this book is at once powerful and timely.”

(Anne Allison, author of Precarious Japan)

“Based on careful research, extensive fieldwork, and a judicious use of political and feminist theory, this book’s relevance to political and social developments extends beyond Japan’s borders. It is a reminder of the ongoing effects of the Fukushima disaster in Japan at a time when these effects are being increasingly ignored by the global media. A timely and important book, Radiation Brain Moms and Citizen Scientists will appeal to scholars of contemporary Japanese society as well as science and technology studies scholars, especially those interested in the gender dimensions of science and technology.”

(Tessa Morris-Suzuki, author of Borderline Japan: Foreigners and Frontier Controls in the Postwar Era)

About the Author

Aya Hirata Kimura is Associate Professor of Women’s Studies at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa and the author of Hidden Hunger: Gender and Politics of Smarter Foods.


October 7, 2016 - Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , ,

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