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The Chernobyl Effect: Antinuclear Protests and the Molding of Polish Democracy, 1986–1990

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Volume 32

Protest, Culture & Society

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The Chernobyl Effect

Antinuclear Protests and the Molding of Polish Democracy, 1986–1990

Kacper Szulecki, Janusz Waluszko, and Tomasz Borewicz

246 pages, 38 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-80073-619-1 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Not Yet Published (September 2022)

eISBN 978-1-80073-620-7 eBook Not Yet Published

Hb View cartYour country: United States - edit   Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“This is an excellent volume on an important subject. Deploying social movement theory, this study challenges views of popular activism in Poland in the 1980s that focus on Solidarity and the Catholic Church, taking a grassroots approach to anti-nuclear activism. This study also situates itself in the heart of nuclear history, providing a Polish perspective on many important themes and debates.” • Dolores L. Augustine, St. John’s University


The 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe was not only a human and ecological disaster, but also a political-ideological one, severely discrediting Soviet governance and galvanizing dissidents in the Eastern Bloc. In the case of Poland, what began as isolated protests against the Soviet nuclear site grew to encompass domestic nuclear projects in general, and in the process spread across the country and attracted new segments of society. This innovative study, combining scholarly analysis with oral histories and other accounts from participants, traces the growth and development of the Polish anti-nuclear movement, showing how it exemplified the broader generational and cultural changes in the nation’s opposition movements during the waning days of the state socialist era.

Tomasz Borewicz (1963-2015) was a Polish anthropologist and environmental activist who led anti-nuclear protests in Gdansk from 1988 to 1990.

Kacper Szulecki is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Oslo. The is editor of three scholarly collections and author of Dissidents and Human Rights in Communist Central Europe (Palgrave 2019).

Janusz Waluszko is a journalist who became active in the Polish underground beginning in the 1970s. The author of two other books, he works at the Central Library of the Gdansk University of Technology.

Subject: History: 20th Century to Present
Area: Central/Eastern Europe


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