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The Prypiat Project

2007.06.01. 03:52 :: Zeno Vernyik

I have had an idea for a long time now. I really don't know if it will ever really materialize, but it is at least worth playing with from time to time.

As some of you might know, my primary research interest is urban spatiality. My actual dissertation project is dealing with the stratification and reconfiguration of space in E. E. Cummings' poetry and Peter Ackroyd's fiction. Not surprisingly, therefore, I really like cities and towns. Walking in them, reading (about) them, and so on.

One of those towns that constantly keep me fascinated is Prypiat. I don't think I have to go into details about why that may be so. But in case one might nevertheless wonder about the reasons, here are some hints:

  • Check out Wikipedia's article first, to get a general idea.
  • Then, you can dig in this gold mine for photos and a huge pile of information.
  • And, of course you can always read one of the many reports about visits to the town, such as this one.

The penetration of the town's imagery and of that of the symbolism of the disaster to the popular consciousness and our thinking is immense. Almost unbelievable. For those who are sceptical about this statement, here is another Wikipedia entry, and it is also worth a try to check the amount of hits that Amazon has for the word Chernobyl. There is a computer game about the topic, and numerous others that take place there, or at least allude to it, not to mention the books, films, tv-series, and the rest.

Strangely enough, as far as I know, there is not much available in terms of academic writing about these cultural products. Maybe I am ignorant (primarily because I'm not really able to read in Ukrainian or in Russian), but I don't know of any analyses of how the strange locality and the unique space of Prypiat is represented in art.

My idea, therefore is to organize a conference dealing explicitly with the representations of Prypiat, the dead town, and then to publish a volume of essays later on. I would really like to hear the opinions of other scholars about the feasibility of such a plan, or to know of their possibly already existing tries in dealing with this very exciting field.

Of course, very probably the number of people reading this note here, is close to zero, but one can never know. I myself am thinking seriously about starting this project at some point.

But I have to finish another volume of essays first. :-)

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Tags: space academic city prypiat chernobyl

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