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Personal profile


“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).

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Karena Kalmbach is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

accident Social Sciences
knowledge production Social Sciences
history Social Sciences
recipient Social Sciences
discourse Social Sciences
Berlin Social Sciences
politics Social Sciences
elite politics Earth & Environmental Sciences

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Projects 2015 2020

Impuls projects between TU Eindhoven, RWS, and PON

Oldenziel, R., Oldenziel, R., Dekker, H., Petzer, B., Bek, P., Sun, Q., Jeekel, H., Verbong, G., Veraart, F., Wieczorek, A., Spahn, A., Kalmbach, K., Jansen, R., Vereggen - Tielemans, T., Benckhuijsen - Mertens, P. & Vereggen - Tielemans, T.


Project: Research direct

Research Output 2002 2018

Baromètre IRSN - Point de vue

Kalmbach, K., Aug 2018, Baromètre IRSN sur la perception des risques et de la sécurité par les Français. IRSN, p. 24 1 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterProfessional

Die destruktive Produktion : der französische Atomsektor aus Sicht André Gorz’ politischer Ökologie

Kalmbach, K., Nov 2017, André Gorz und die zweite Linke: die Aktualität eines fast vergessenen Denkers. Leggewie, C. & Stenke, W. (eds.). Berlin: Verlag Klaus Wagenbach, p. 148-156 9 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

From Pripyat to Paris, from grassroots memories to globalized knowledge production: the Politics of Chernobyl Fallout

Kalmbach, K., Bauer, S. & Kasperski, T., Sep 2017, Nuclear Portraits: Communities, the Environment, and Public Policy. MacDowell, L. (ed.). Toronto: University of Toronto Press, p. 149-189

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

knowledge production
collective memory

Revisiting the nuclear age: state of the art research in nuclear history

Kalmbach, K., Apr 2017, In : Neue Politische Literatur. 62, 1, p. 49-69 21 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

social scientist
twenty-first century
twentieth century
social science


ICOHTEC Book Prize for Young Scholars

Karena Kalmbach (Recipient), Aug 2015

Recognition: OtherCareer, activity or publication related prizes (lifetime, best paper, poster etc.)Scientific


Activities 2016 2019

Workshop "Nuclear weapons, computers and our relationship with technology: Perspectives on fear and technological developments"

Karena Kalmbach (Invited speaker)
8 Mar 2019

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talkScientific

Seminar "Grüne Technologiepolitik"

Karena Kalmbach (Chair)
15 Feb 2019

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesWorkshop, seminar, course or exhibitionScientific

Workshop „(Ein-) Blick in die Zukunft der Endlagersuche“

Karena Kalmbach (Participant)
14 Feb 2019

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesWorkshop, seminar, course or exhibitionScientific

Oberseminar der Professur für Technikgeschichte und des Forschungsinstituts des Deutschen Museums

Karena Kalmbach (Speaker)
14 Jan 2019

Activity: Talk or presentation typesKeynote talkScientific

«Lessons learned»? Studying learning devices and processes in relation to technological accidents

Karena Kalmbach (Invited speaker)
14 Dec 2018

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talkScientific

Press / Media

Deutschlandfunk: Aus Kultur- und Sozialwissenschaften

Karena Kalmbach


1 media contribution

Press/Media: Research

Tagung zum Thema "Angst" am ZZF Berlin

Karena Kalmbach


1 media contribution

Press/Media: Research

Dimensionen - die Welt der Wissenschaft: 30 Jahre Tschernobyl

Karena Kalmbach


1 media contribution

Press/Media: Public Engagement Activities

"Nuclear power wouldn't have stood a chance - even without Chernobyl"

Karena Kalmbach


1 media contribution

Press/Media: Public Engagement Activities

Student theses

Governing rural waste: a case study to the implementation of the eight design principles to solid waste management in Bali

Author: van Hemmen, J., 31 Jan 2019

Supervisor: Höffken, J. (Supervisor 1), Romijn, H. (Supervisor 2) & Kalmbach, K. (Supervisor 2)

Student thesis: Master