Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Informality and survival in Ukraine's nuclear landscape: living with the risks of Chernobyl

Davies, Thom; Polese, Abel

Informality and survival in Ukraine's nuclear landscape: living with the risks of Chernobyl Thumbnail


Abel Polese


Recent debates on informal economic activities have partially switched away from a pure monetary logic towards a more complex one, embedded in long term relations and reckoning with non materialistic paradigms. The role of informality in certain aspects of people's lives has however, remained largely unexplored. This article uncovers what happens when the state retires from (providing benefits and social services to) a geographic area and what kind of mechanisms, practices and institutions are created to make up for this. We suggest that, in the face of de facto abandonment by state welfare, and the absence of a private sector alternative, a myriad of transactions and actors can make up for this by replacing these forms of welfare informally. Our case study focuses on the nuclear landscapes around the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in north–central Ukraine as we reveal the ways the excluded and abandoned, which we frame as post-nuclear “bare life” (Agamben, 1998), have created a mechanism of social security that is independent from the state and yet complements it. Informal, local and unofficial understandings of nuclear spaces are central to survival in this marginalised and risky environment.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 25, 2014
Online Publication Date Nov 20, 2014
Publication Date Jan 31, 2015
Deposit Date Oct 29, 2018
Publicly Available Date Oct 30, 2018
Journal Journal of Eurasian Studies
Print ISSN 1879-3665
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 6
Issue 1
Pages 34-45
Keywords Chernobyl; Post-socialism; Bare life; Informal economies; Ukraine; Welfare
Public URL
Additional Information This article is maintained by: Elsevier; Article Title: Informality and survival in Ukraine's nuclear landscape: Living with the risks of Chernobyl; Journal Title: Journal of Eurasian Studies; CrossRef DOI link to publisher maintained version:; Content Type: article; Copyright: Copyright © 2014 Asia-Pacific Research Center, Hanyang University. Production and hosting by Elsevier Ltd.


You might also like

Downloadable Citations