Dr. Christie Smith

Department: Politics and International Studies
Discipline: Politics

Project Summary

Articulating Ecological Injustices of Nuclear Energy

Historically, most greens have opposed nuclear energy alongside nuclear weapons. Recently, however, significant green spokespeople have combined with industry and governments in emphasising the need for nuclear energy in response to climate change. Based upon my experiences in the struggle against the Hinkley C nuclear power plant in Somerset, UK, my thesis contests the dominant framings of the debates. I suggest that arguments for nuclear energy are made possible by reductive understandings of the issue making it difficult to apprehend the significance of harms reinforced by nuclear energy. Taking an ecological approach I show how dominant discourses presuppose a hierarchical separation of science/politics, reinforced by and reinforcing the separation of nature/culture. These hierarchical separations depoliticise and naturalise harms produced by both nuclear energy and dominant forms of social organisation. As a result, these harms are difficult to communicate and contest as relevant to the discussion of our common futures. I argue that we might more effectively convey the significance of these harms if we articulate them as injustices. Building upon the theory and practice of justice and liberation struggles I develop a heuristic framework for articulating injustices based around three intersecting images of politics as distribution, recognition and representation.

Supervisory Team

First Supervisor: Dr. Bice Maiguashca

Second Supervisor: Dr. Andrew Schaap

Mentor: Dr Dario Castiglione

Wider Research Interests

Environmental Politics, Feminist Political Theory, International Political Theory

I am also currently working as postdoctoral research assistant to Professor Clive Barnett in the Geography Department at the University of Exeter. This is to support his Leverhulme Trust funded research on the contemporary dynamics of the 'urbanization of responsibility', broadly exploring how and why specific problems are ascribed to urban causes and how and why urban practices are configured to enact specific types of solutions to such problems.