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Life Exposed: Biological Citizens after Chernobyl
On April 26, 1986, Unit Four of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor exploded in then Soviet Ukraine. More than 3.5 million people in Ukraine alone, not to mention many citizens of surrounding countries, are still suffering the effects. "Life Exposed" is the first book to comprehensively examine the vexed political, scientific, and social circumstances that followed the disaster. ...more
Paperback, 264 pages
Published November 17th 2002 by Princeton University Press
(first published January 1st 2002)
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I'll always be biased to books that revolve around Eastern European cultures. Nonetheless, Petryna illuminates vital philosophies of medical anthropology. Adriana Petryna's Life Exposed delves into the political and social complications that developed in Ukraine after the explosion. Such complications ultimately created a hierarchy of human value based on scientific jargon. The Ukrainian government appeals to the international arena not through glorifying their success as post-Soviet nation, but ...more
I am not much of a fan of Petryna's writing style, and (in agreement with a colleague who made this comment as I was beginning the book) I do wish that she had gotten to the stories of real people much sooner in her text. There seems to be a dirth of rich ethnography in this ostensibly ethnographic book. Regardless, her analysis is sharp and wrought. The book won numerous awards in spite of the unnecessarily dense and god-like writing style, which is a point in it's favor as far as I am concerne ...more
An ethnographic account of how Ukrainian citizens become biological citizens, foregoing all other identities, in order to get treatment for the effects of low dose radiation brought on my the Chernobyl catastrophe. The analysis are clear, and thorough. Petryna uses individuals' stories to reveal the political and social realities that sufferers must deal with on a day to day basis. Although its very fact heavy and not targeted to the general public her writing style coupled with the organization ...more
A bit slow going and quite dry (in the boring way) at times, but interesting nonetheless. I don't quite know for sure, but it's quite possible that this book came from a doctoral dissertation. Anyway, you'll learn a few interesting and disturbing things about Chernobyl, that's for damn sure.
As a tudent of Dr. Petryna's husband (Joao Biehl), I read this book as part of his class on medical anthropology. I still refer to it today both as a psychologist and a public health practitioner. Excellent work, very informative. An anthropological work of the highest caliber.