Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

Aske Hennelund Nielsen | Friedrich Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg | Germany 


September 16th 2022 | 15.00 – 16.30
Panel #11 | “Apocalypses and conflicts
Room G.127 | Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore Milan, Largo Gemelli 1

Imagine a World without the Bomb – Media Publics and Opposing Dystopias in Post-War Denmark

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, two communities were waging a war of opinions in Denmark. On the one hand, a disparate collection of Anti-Nuclear Weapons protestors was promoting a dystopian vision of the future ravaged by atomic war and the effects of radioactive fallout – calling for a ban on nuclear weapons and nuclear bomb testing. Opposing them, a group I have named the “National Security Actors” who feared the Anti-Nuclear Weapons protesters, might succeed. The abolishment of nuclear weapons represented a dystopia for the National Security Actors, where Denmark and Western Europe would be left defenseless against a potential Soviet invasion. In order to prevent their respective dystopias, the Anti-Nuclear Weapons protesters and the National Security Actors tried to promote their own discourses while minimizing their opponents across both traditional print media, like newspapers, journals and books, but also in brochures, protest songs, radio interviews etc. In this paper, I would like to use these opposing dystopian visions to suggest a new approach to studying dystopian technological visions. Drawing on both studies of Science and Technology Studies and Media Studies, I suggest the concept of “Media Publics” as a framework to examine how different communities have reacted, debated, formed discourses and narratives as well as embedded or rejected new technologies into and through their existing social values and norms. Using the Anti-Nuclear Movement and the National Security Actors as a comparative case study, I wish to show that while nuclear weapons in both communities were viewed as horrific weapons of war, the technological dystopias formed on the basis of the values of each group was entirely opposite. 

Aske Hennelund Nielsen is Postdoctoral Fellow at the ERC-project: “Living with Radiation” at the Chair for Science, Technology and Gender Studies at Friedrich Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg. 
Nielsen’s primary research topics are nuclear culture, history of technology, media studies as well as museum studies. Nielsen’s publications include: Museale indsamlingspraksisser belyst gennem projektet VAERKs samlingsgennemgang (Collection practices of Museums explored by the project VAERKs collection Examination) published in VAERK – En håndværksgennemgang (2022, forthcoming) and Videnskonsensus, Niels Bohr og atomkraftværker (Knowledge consensus, Niels Bohr and Nuclear Power Plants) published in Tidsskriftet Kulturstudier (2019).