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ISGA Research Seminar: Resisting Big Science: How the Opposition Movement Against the Thirty Meter Telescope Sustained Momentum

Monday 27 February 2023
ISGA Research Seminar Series 2023
Turfmarkt 99
2511 DP The Hague
Common room ISGA, and via Teams (keek op de week link).

About this research seminar

Big Science projects, which cost billions of dollars and revolve around expensive, large and complex instruments, are increasingly common in research. These projects are embedded in local communities through their physical infrastructure, economic contributions, and societal outreach. Yet it is not uncommon for local residents to oppose Big Science projects. In South Africa, for example, local communities were concerned by the land acquisition process for the Square Kilometer Array and questioned whether project expenditures would benefit them. In southern France, health and safety concerns led some local residents to oppose the construction of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor. Typically, however, opposition to Big Science projects is short-lived, either because local concerns are addressed or because the opposition movement fails to sustain momentum. The story is different for the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), a billion-dollar astronomy project planned to be built on Mauna Kea, Hawai’i. 

Native Hawaiians and local residents have sustained opposition to the TMT for more than ten years. How did the local movement against the TMT manage to sustain such momentum? The present study seeks to answer this question by drawing on social movement theory and the literature on place attachment. Using data from interviews and participant observation, this study argues that five factors – elite support, persuasive frames, strong place attachment, community leadership, and resources – were decisive for movement survival. 

About the speaker

Anna-Lena Rüland joined the INSCONS project as a PhD candidate in January 2021. She holds a BA in Politics, Administration and Organization from the University of Potsdam and a MA in International Relations from the Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin and the University of Potsdam.

Discussant: Dr. Silvia D’Amato is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs (ISGA), part of the research groups Terrorism and Political Violence and War, Peace and Justice.

For whom?

The research seminars are open to all levels of seniority  - ranging from PhD candidates to senior professors in order to ensure a vibrant exchange and also feed-back opportunities for all. 

More information

For further information and the teams link, please contact Dr Lydie Cabane.

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