The Radiance of France: Nuclear Power and National Identity after World War IIby Gabrielle Hecht
In the aftermath of World War II, as France sought a distinctive role for itself in the modern, postcolonial world, the nation and its leaders enthusiastically embraced large technological projects in general and nuclear power in particular. The Radiance of France asks how it happened that technological prowess and national glory (or "radiance," which also means "radiation" in French) became synonymous in France as nowhere else.
To answer this question, Gabrielle Hecht has forged an innovative combination of technology studies and cultural and political history. Focusing on the early history of French nuclear power, Hecht explores the design and development of the reactors, the culture and organization of work at reactor sites, and the ways in which local communities responded to nuclear power and state-directed technological development. Combining research in a wealth of previously untapped archival sources with extensive oral interviews, Hecht effectively demonstrates the relationship between history and memory in technological France.
What People are Saying About This
"Thanks to Gabrielle Hecht's talent and insight, the French nuclear program she explores has turned out to be for STS what the drosophila was for genetic research. This book not only sheds new light on the role of technology in the construction of national identities. It is also a seminal contribution to the history of contemporary France."—from the foreword by Michel Callon,coauthor of Acting in an Uncertain World
"This elegantly written book is an important contribution to the history of modern France and sets a demanding new standard for social studies of technology." Donald MacKenzie , University of Edinburgh, author of An Engine, Not a Camera
"This is a superb book, one that takes up the hazy notion of technological 'style' and transforms it into a complex story of conflict and negotiation about what it means to be French in the late twentieth century,andmore generallywhat it means to be a participant in a world of high technology." Ken Alder , Department of History, Northwestern University
Meet the Author
Michel Callon, developer (with Bruno Latour and others) of Actor Network Theory, is Professor at the École des mines de Paris and a Researcher at the Centre de Sociologie de l'innovation there.
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