Travelling risks: How did nanotechnology become a risk in India and South Africa?

Beumer, K., 2-Nov-2018, In : Journal of Risk Research. 21, 11, p. 1362-1383 22 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

  • Koen Beumer

India and South Africa have invested in nanotechnology since the early 2000s and have identified risks to human health and the environment as an important issue for governance. This is exemplary for a wider trend in which 'developing countries' play an increasingly prominent role in the development, production and use of emerging technologies. This validates the claim of the world risk society thesis that countries around the world are now confronted with the risks of emerging technologies. Little is known, however, about the way developing countries deal with the potential risks of emerging technologies. Starting from the observation that the risk colonization of nanotechnology in developing countries cannot be taken for granted, this article draws upon the relational theory of risk in order to investigate how nanotechnology became understood as an object of risk in South Africa and India. The article shows that nanotechnology was constituted as an object of risk in rather different ways in India and South Africa, demonstrating that the spread of risk discourses - and the emergence of a world risk society - cannot be understood without attending to the local context. The article shows that way risk is understood and dealt with changes as risk discourses travel around the world, giving many different faces to the world risk society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1362-1383
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Risk Research
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2-Nov-2018


  • travelling risk discourses, nanotechnology, developing countries, India, South Africa, relational theory of risk, BIOTECHNOLOGY, GLOBALIZATION, TOXICOLOGY, APARTHEID, SCIENCE

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