OSA / Guide / RIP

Nuclear Energy and Its Applications


The Exhibition

OSA holdings


Web links

This Reference Information Paper (RIP) has been prepared on the ocassion of the Atom exhibition organized by OSA on April 26 - June 11, 2006 on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl catastrophe.

As the title might suggest, the aim is to select, describe and bring to the attention of the scholarly public the wide variety of sources in the Open Society Archives and related institutions about the topic of ’nuclear energy’ and its uses. An inquiry into the issue of nuclear energy is of a particular importance in the contemporary international context. The immediate negative consequences of its use -- especially as far as the environment is concerned -- have shifted today to debates about terrorism, power relations or the immanent threat of accidents with global consequences. It has become an even more important problem now that civil society is actively involved in this debate.

Eastern Europe has suffered the trauma of Chernobyl (an issue broadly covered in the archival materials presented here) and, especially since that point, the use of nuclear power as an alternative source of energy has been carefully filtered through this perspective. The problem is crucial if we think about the atomic bomb and the implications it has for the economic-political context of the 20 th century and our current times. In light of the sources that we have included in the presentation this variety of themes can be reflected upon with a special focus on the communist period in Eastern Europe and on Soviet political propaganda for the promotion of ’peaceful atom’.

Bearing all this in mind, the selection of primary sources, bibliographical references and links (including Internet access) related to this thematic sphere that have been ambitiously systematized below, will be an important starting point for anyone interested in research in Budapest. The structure of this RIP is based on the provenance of the materials. The focus is, of course, on the sources held by OSA. These range from thousands of newspaper clippings, transcripts of radio programs, interviews ad debates (especially from the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Research institute) to documentary films dealing with the problems of the Cold War or oral interviews with Chernobyl survivors and officials who have estimated the consequences of the accident. Besides the primary archival resources this section also includes the periodicals and books that can be found in the OSA Library and the interesting documentary films relevant to the topic.

A second part is dedicated to the selection of web resources as an indication of the rich literature concerning the problem of nuclear energy and related issues. In recent years the sites and web pages dealing with the burning problem of the atomic bomb, with the ’mass paranoia’ of building shelters and hiding from the danger of possible radiation, with interestingly designed web museums, can be a fruitful alternative source for historical research. What is presented here is merely a starting point: the most relevant such sites have been included, bearing in mind the connections that can be made with the other materials.

Furthermore, the RIP has a valuable bibliographical selection. Here again the focus is on the library of the Central European University: in one part the books, studies and official reports of different institutions specialized in environmental issues or nuclear energy policies have been thematically organized. Thus, for example, one can start researching on the topic of ’atomic energy for war’ or ’environmental issues’ and so forth. Concerning the latter issue we have added one section in the paper which is dedicated to the research, publications and resources of the Environmental Studies Department at CEU. A general bibliography is also provided as the vast literature in Russian is not properly represented in the CEU library, but it would be an important part of any study linked to the Soviet ’atom’ propaganda (or ’red atom’) or the debate about building nuclear power plants in its satellite countries and finding alternative energy sources in the post world war period.

These sections are completed by a rather general and open part which includes ’other resources’. This is intended to introduce the related institutions, research institutes and several other academic bases where the exploration of these themes can be continued in Central and Eastern Europe . Most of these related institutions can also be found on the internet.

In light of this introduction to the RIP concerning ’nuclear energy and its applications’ we can see that OSA is an important source for investigating the recent past of the controversial European political and economic sphere but also for issues of international relevance.

N.B. Images used for the online presentation of the Atom exhibition have been released into the public domain by their authors.

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