The (Un)bearable Lightness of Nuclear Energy in Finland
Suomen Antropologi: The Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society, Forum on Anthropologies of Humor 39(4) 2014
5 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2014 Last revised: 28 Mar 2015
Date Written: 2014
This article presents an ethnographic account of one way humor has been enacted to foster a sense of ‘comedic camaraderie’ among young professionals in Finland’s nuclear energy sector. To this end, it details some of the lively, satirical, sometimes-edgy social games played at Suomen Atomiteknillinen Seura (The Finnish Nuclear Society) Young Generation Working Group (ATS YG)’s annual Summer Games event held in 2013 in Mikkeli, Finland. The article then examines how young nuclear energy professionals presented, to me as an ethnographer, quasi-functionalist explanations of the festive Summer Games event’s aim to cultivate community spirit, well-networked rapport, and a sense of collegial cohesion among ATS YG members. Building upon these ethnographic informants’ explanations, I unpack how the levity of their nuclear humor was enacted as an energizing, refreshing, or rejuvenating ‘comedic counterpoint’ to the gravity of its antithesis: nuclear risk. Such nuclear humor, I suggest, could be seen as emblematic of what many Finns call teekkarihuumori (‘techie-humor’). This article concludes with a reflection on the potential for ethnography to reveal ways in which deeply human modalities like humor become in part constitutive of what might otherwise be imagined as being a most austere regime of nuclear technoscience.
Keywords: Humor Studies, Nuclear Energy, Finland
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation