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“Is It Really Safe? That's What We Want to Know”: Science, Stories, and Dangerous Places

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This article presents a case study of risk perception and decision making regarding the former nuclear test site of Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. This example demonstrates how people use combinations of scientific and anecdotal evidence to consider whether places are “really safe.” Furthermore, the article examines how scientific studies of risk operate as cultural systems and how a lack of dialogue and understanding across cultural systems can confuse discussions about risk and affect the development of places. The study is based on interviews with still-exiled Bikinians as well as with workers and visitors on Bikini Atoll.

Keywords: Bikini Atoll; hazards; place; qualitative methods; risk

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Vermont

Publication date: May 1, 2005


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