The Radiance of France: Nuclear Power and National Identity after World War II

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MIT Press, 31 juil. 2009 - 496 pages
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How it happened that technological prowess and national glory (or “radiance,” which also means “radiation” in French) became synonymous in France as nowhere else.

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 in a book that, as Michel Callon writes in the new foreword to this edition, “not only sheds new light on the role of technology in the construction of national identities” but is also “a seminal contribution to the history of contemporary France.” Proposing the concept of technopolitical regime as a way to analyze the social, political, cultural, and technological dynamics among engineering elites, unionized workers, and rural communities, Hecht shows how the history of France's first generation of nuclear reactors is also a history of the multiple meanings of nationalism, from the postwar period (and France's desire for post-Vichy redemption) to 1969 and the adoption of a “Frenchified” American design.

This paperback edition of Hecht's groundbreaking book includes both Callon's foreword and an afterword by the author in which she brings the story up to date, and reflects on such recent developments as the 2007 French presidential election, the promotion of nuclear power as the solution to climate change, and France's aggressive exporting of nuclear technology.

 

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Table des matières

A Technological Nation
21
Technopolitical Regimes
55
Technopolitics in the Fifth Republic
91
Technological Unions
131
Regimes of Work
163
Technological Spectacles
201
Atomic Vintage
241
Warring Systems
271
Conclusion
325
Afterword
341
Notes
349
Bibliography
421
Index
455
Inside Technology
463
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À propos de l'auteur (2009)

Gabrielle Hecht is Frank Stanton Foundation Professor of Nuclear Security and Professor of History at Stanford University. She is the author of The Radiance of France: Nuclear Power and National Identity after World War II (MIT Press).

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.

Wiebe E. Bijker is Professor at Maastricht University and the author of Of Bicycles, Bakelites, and Bulbs: Toward a Theory of Sociotechnical Change (MIT Press) and other books.

Trevor Pinch is Goldwin Smith Professor of Science and Technology Studies at Cornell University and coeditor of The Social Construction of Technological Systems: New Directions in the Sociology and History of Technology (anniversary edition, MIT Press).

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