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“If you want an easy answer, don’t ask a historian!”

Research profile

Karena Kalmbach holds a tenure track position in History at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e). Her areas of expertise include Social and Cultural History of Technology and the Environment (with a particular focus on Nuclear History), Politics of Memory, and Social Studies of Science and Technology. Karena has done extensive research on the question of how national and international nuclear politics have influenced the debate on the health effects of the Chernobyl accident in France and the UK. Furthermore, she researched how the commemoration of the accident has been used to underpin political arguments in various European countries. Taking up her position at TU/e, she set up an interdisciplinary research project with her TU/e colleagues Andreas Spahn (Philosophy) and Ginevra Sanvitale (Anthropology) in which they investigate the interrelation of Fear and Technology, focusing on the question: How does fear drive technological innovation?

Academic background

Karena Kalmbach obtained her PhD from the European University Institute in Florence (Department of History and Civilization). Her PhD thesis : “Meanings of a Disaster: The Contested 'Truth' about Chernobyl. British and French Chernobyl Debates and the Transnationality of Arguments and Actors”, won the 2015 Book Prize of the International Committee for the History of Technology (ICOHTEC). Karena holds a M.A. in History, Political Sciences and Communication Sciences from Freie Universität Berlin. During her M.A. and PhD, she received numerous fellowships that allowed her to study at Université de Lausanne, École Normale Supérieure Paris, Sciences Po Paris, and University of California, Berkeley.  

Before joining TU/e, she was a postdoctoral researcher with the Environmental Policy Research Centre of Freie Universität Berlin where she worked on questions of conflicts, acceptance and acceptability in nuclear waste management. Since 2014, Karena has been the coordinator of the Nuclear International Research Group (NIRG) and in 2017, together with her colleague Claire le Renard (Sociology) set up the network “nuclear_hss – Humanities and Social Sciences Research on Nuclear Issues” (https://listes.services.cnrs.fr/wws/info/nuclear_hss).


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