Garrison Colony and Soviet Atomgrad

Seminars and Colloquia

The colloquium discussed several types of colonies typical for the Soviet modernity, including the notions of internal and external colonization, to ponder and problematize their applicability to the Soviet practice. We specifically focused on three different Ukrainian atomic cities, or “plutopia” (Brown) – Pripyat, Chornobyl, and Slavutych, the pre- and post-accident satellites of the nuclear power plant.

Shaped by the dual nature of modern technology in general (Gerovitch) and of nuclear infrastructure in particular (Hecht), the status of these cities accommodating both civilian and military practices, processes and productions was also dual – as a result, the vibrant urban life of the “Soviet iconic cities,” the constant focus of the Soviet propaganda, was highly saturated by the regimes of secrecy and surveillance.

The purpose of this colloquium, however, was not only in excavating the overlooked controversies of imperfect technological modernism. Together, these atomic cities form a representative case of the Soviet colonial expansion: a modern garrison colony as a model of the Soviet military-industrial complex and its forms of imperial settlement.

Svitlana Matviyenko is an Associate Professor of Critical Media Analysis in the School of Communication and Associate Director of the Digital Democracies Institute. Her research and teaching, informed by science & technology studies and history of science, are focused on information and cyberwar, media and environment, critical infrastructure studies and postcolonial theory. Matviyenko’s current work on nuclear cultures & heritage investigates the practices of nuclear terror, weaponization of pollution and technogenic catastrophes during the Russian war in Ukraine.

Mariia Shynkarenko, Research Director of the IWM Ukraine in European Dialogue program, hosted and moderated this colloquium.