Go back to article: Networks of knowledge and power: working collaboratively on the HoNESt project

Conclusions

As has been outlined above, the structure of the HoNESt project has offered us opportunities and challenges. Comparing and contrasting the relationship between nuclear energy and society in twenty countries across Europe and beyond has provided an unparalleled opportunity to draw out transnational links, and has highlighted the importance of non-nuclear events, priorities and concerns in shaping societies’ responses to nuclear power. Amalgamating such a large amount of data from many national experiences allows us to track these responses not just across time, but also across international (and in some cases continental) borders, providing a much more nuanced picture of the relationship between nuclear power and society. It is hoped that the Short Country Reports will be a useful resource for anyone – be they an academic, a member of the public, or a museum curator – interested learning more about nuclear power in Europe.

Of course, the structure of the project, its primary aims, focuses and even the countries chosen have implications for the conclusions drawn. However, the wide selection of data from across Europe has allowed us to identify large-scale trends. The emphasis on nuclear power, rather than a joint approach considering nuclear weapons programmes may be viewed as limiting. However, in many nations there is a unique story of society’s response to civil nuclear programmes which is quite separate from their response to nuclear weapons programmes. Indeed, in nations like the UK the successful narrative construction of this separation has been a key feature since the industry’s very beginnings.

As work on the second phase of HoNESt enters its final stages, collaboration among historians, and between historians and social scientists becomes more important. The development of mutual understanding, the ability to understand each other’s ‘language’ (or ‘habits of mind’ as Jordanova would put it), allows us to combine the experiences of the past with our understanding of the present and gives us new insight into the relationship between nuclear energy and society.

 

Acknowledgements

This article and the research work behind it were completed as part of the History of Nuclear Energy and Society (HoNESt Project). The author gratefully acknowledges funding from the Euratom research and training programme 2014–2018 under grant agreement No 662268. The author would also like to thank Dr Robert Bud for his support and guidance.

 

Component DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15180/180907/009