Kaunas, Lithuania

Nuclear Tourism in Post-Soviet Sites

when 13 July 2020 - 26 July 2020
language English
duration 2 weeks
credits 3 EC
fee EUR 600

Due to the covid-19 outbreak, all programmes will take place in 2021. We will announce new dates once they are available.

The world has recently been shaken by a dramatized TV rendering of the aftermath of the explosion at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Introduced 33 years after the disaster, it is still as relevant as ever, trying to comprehend the fragility of our existence, a chain of actions that caused the disaster, hubris and unpreparedness to deal with the situation which changed in its entirety the destinies not only of people in Belarus, Ukraine and other Soviet countries forced to deal with the situation, but the world as we know it as well.
It is rather symbolic that most of the scenes of the series were filmed in Lithuania: Kaunas, Vilnius and the city of Visaginas, a counterpart of Prypiat – while not as tragic in its destiny as the latter, it is a reminder that the tragedy was possible in this setting as well.
Visaginas is a unique phenomenon in the context of Lithuania, in terms of its history, ethnic composition and challenges to its identity. It is also located in the picturesque part of Lithuania, our “lake district”, and surrounded by lush forests and lakes.
Visaginas is a satellite town of Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant. This monoindustrial town was built in the 70s, constructing one of the most powerful nuclear power plants in the world at that time.
Its construction was carried out by people that arrived here from all over the Soviet Union, including Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and other Soviet states.
The town has been facing a challenge of redefining its identity after decision was made to close the Nuclear Power Plant (the first reactor block was closed in 2004, the second one – in 2009).
With the town trying to turn from monoindustrial economy to a cultural tourism destination, it has to face many new and already existing challenges: proper representation of multi-ethnic cultural identities, the role of commodification and self-exoticizing, power relations, community engagement. Dominant official and local discourses, shaping politics of identity and memory in Lithuania, because as a post-soviet country, it tends to eliminate those parts of memory and identity which refer to the Soviet past. These dominant discourses create obstacles performing authentic multi-ethnic identities in Visaginas, while also creating place identity to develop socialist heritage tourism.

Course leader

Agnė Poderytė (bsu@vdu.lt)

Target group

BA and MA students of sociology, political sciences, education anthropology, communication studies, arts, cultural studies, creative industry studies, tourism management.

Course aim

To deepen the knowledge of post-soviet identity and nuclear tourism while observing and participating in interactive educational/cultural activities in Visaginas carried out in collaboration with the local community combining learning with rich intercultural experience.

Fee info

EUR 600: Early bird price 550 Eur. From May 1st: 650 Eur