Biological citizenship: the science and politics of Chernobyl-exposed populations

Osiris. 2004;19:250-65. doi: 10.1086/649405.


In the transition out of socialism to market capitalism, bodies, populations, and categories of citizenship have been reordered. The rational-technical management of group affected by the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine is a window into this contested process. Chernobyl exemplifies a moment when scientific knowability collapsed and new maps and categories of entitlement emerged. Older models of welfare rely on precise definitions situating citizens and their attributes on a cross-mesh of known categories upon which claims rights are based. Here one observes how ambiguities related to categorizing suffering created a political field in which a state, forms of citizenship, and informal economies were remade.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Biological Science Disciplines / ethics*
  • Biological Science Disciplines / history*
  • Biological Science Disciplines / statistics & numerical data*
  • Disasters / history*
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Nuclear Energy / history*
  • Politics*
  • Public Health / ethics*
  • Public Health / history*
  • Public Health / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Public Health Administration / ethics*
  • Public Health Administration / history*
  • Public Health Administration / statistics & numerical data*
  • USSR
  • Ukraine