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Life ExposedBiological Citizens after Chernobyl$
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Adriana Petryna

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691151663

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691151663.001.0001

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Self and Social Identity in Transition

Self and Social Identity in Transition

(p.191) Chapter 7 Self and Social Identity in Transition
Life Exposed

Adriana Petryna

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines how the self and social identity have been transformed in post-Soviet Ukraine within the legal and medical context of claiming illness from radiation dose exposure. It shows how the political and bureaucratic aspects of Chernobyl pervaded sufferers' lives, bringing to the fore the complexity of life's disruption by unstable parental and marital relations, unpredictable physical symptoms and emotional stress, patterns of hospitalization, unemployment, and bureaucratic transactions. The chapter tells the story of an elderly couple, using the concept of lichnost', or personhood, to shed light on some of the social and personal dynamics that influenced their life. It explains how the husband's pains, truths, instincts, and acts became key components in realization of his biological citizenship. It also considers how the deep intrusion of illness into personal lives fostered a type of violence that went beyond the line of what could be policed.

Keywords:   self, social identity, radiation dose exposure, illness, Chernobyl sufferers, post-Soviet Ukraine, lichnost', biological citizenship, personhood, violence

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