Nuclear cultural heritage is a fast-growing field in many European countries due to nuclear decommissioning and its impact on local communities, and the challenge of safeguarding nuclear waste and protecting future generations.

Project Facts


Nuclear Spaces: Communities, Materialities and Locations of Nuclear Cultural Heritage


2021-06-01 - 2024-06-01


Dr Egle Rindzeviciute

Funding bodies

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (project reference AH/W000253/1)
The Swedish Research Council ((VR), ref no 2020-06548),
The Research Council of Lithuania ((LMTLT), agreement no S-JPIKP-21-1)

in the framework of Joint Programming Initiative for Cultural Heritage and Global Change: A Challenge for Europe.

Project consortium

Participating universities: Kingston University London, Linköping University, Vytautas Magnus University. Associate partners: Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), Cumbria, UK National Museums Scotland, Edinburgh, UK Regional Museum in Skåne, Lund, Sweden Barsebäck kraft AB/Uniper, Sweden Malmö Museums, Malmö, Sweden National Museum of Science and Technology, Stockholm, Sweden State Enterprise Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, Druksiniai, Lithuania Energy and Technology Museum, Vilnius, Lithuania Visaginas City Council, Visaginas, Lithuania

Subject areas

History, Tangible Heritage, Intangible Heritage, Natural Heritage, Built Heritage, Rural Heritage, Urban Heritage, Archives, Monuments - Sites, Libraries, Objects, Collections, Conservation, Climate Change, Ecology, Heritage values - Identity, Tourism, Sustainability, Museums

NuSPACES will collaborate with different stakeholders to document and examine the creation of nuclear cultural heritage in three countries, the UK, Sweden and Lithuania and to shape a new agenda for research and practice in this field.

Project will explore, first, the ways in which different social groups at local communities, nuclear industries and national cultural organisations engage in creating museum expositions and heritage sites in the process of selective preservation of their nuclear past.

Project will explore the role that nuclear cultural heritage can play in the process of decommissioning nuclear objects, for instance, providing new categories and types of materials to be preserved in the archives that are being assembled to inform future management of nuclear waste depositories.

Project will contribute to the internationalisation of local and national nuclear cultural heritage-making activities by establishing a platform where stakeholders will be able to share their experience and shape future agenda for research and practice in the field in conversation with academic researchers.

NuSPACES will result in new empirical data, academic publications, workshops and will produce a report containing policy guidelines on nuclear cultural heritage.

3 Working Packages

1 / 3
  • WP1 Nuclear roots: understanding local nuclear cultural heritage

    This strand focuses on the role of local communities in defining nuclear cultural heritage and anchoring it spatially and socially. The concept of nuclear cultural heritage is new and there have been attempts to develop an intellectual definition that could be used in practice (Rindzeviciute et al 2019).
    However, it is not clear to what extent its definitions vary in different contexts and times, as nuclear cultural heritage is entangled with other forms of industrial, military, cultural and historical heritage (Storm 2014; Cocroft 2006). Furthermore, nation-centred, political narratives dominate existing histories of nuclear technology, downplaying its global and local character (Hecht 2012). NuSPACES will challenge this approach by exploring the complex ways in which the nuclear industry became materially, environmentally, culturally and politically rooted in Sellafield, Dounreay, Barsebäck and Ignalina (Topic 1 & 5). Contextualisation is particularly important in these sites of investigation because they feature complex political histories and are marked with past conflict and present tensions between different ethnicities and centre/periphery . The “Nuclear Roots” strand will add an important and novel perspective of nuclear cultural heritage to the growing body of research into local and national nuclear histories and cultures.
  • WP2 Nuclear routes: national, international and global flows of nuclear culture

    This strand focuses on cultural mediation and the mobilities of nuclear cultural imaginaries (Jasanoff & Kim 2015). Nuclear cultural heritage activities are not only rooted, but also strategically routed, linked to national, international and global processes. Nuclear cultural heritage-makers seek to create not only new symbolic values, but also social and economic values, using this new form of heritage to attract visitors and regenerate areas undergoing decommissioning (Storm & Kasperski 2020).
    Furthermore, nuclear infrastructures themselves are products of complex routes, constituted by transnational flows of people, industrial materials, and knowledge. It is important to recognise and critically assess the legacies of these flows in nuclear cultural heritage-making, because they embody significant political, social and cultural histories that have the potential to de-centre Eurocentric notions of heritage. To address this, NuSPACES will explore how these flows shape nuclear cultural heritage in the three national sites of investigation by identifying key actors, modes of action and forms of cultural mediation. The selected national sites are apt for this type of analysis: Sellafield & Dounreay, Barsebäck and Ignalina attract artistic collaborations (e.g. exhibitions Perpetual Uncertainty (Sweden, 2016-2018) and Splitting the Atom (Lithuania, 2020). Their local governments are developing nuclear-focused cultural tourism. For instance, Ignalina saw a surge of visitors in 2019-2020, because it was featured as a filming location in the HBO miniseries Chernobyl (2019). The ERDF funded a project to develop an educational tourism route for Ignalina-Visaginas, to which PI3 contributed (Dovydaityte 2020). Finally, decommissioning entails new flows of knowledge, materials and organisational culture.
  • WP3 Beyond the residual governance of nuclear cultural heritage

    This strand will map and analyse the emerging governmental frameworks which influence nuclear cultural heritage-making. It draws on the concept of residual governance (Hecht 2018) to describe the short-term, profit-oriented management of industrial infrastructures. In the nuclear industry, forms of residual governance can be seen in the delegation of the decommissioning of infrastructure and re-mediation of environmental damage to local communities and public authorities.
    There is a risk that nuclear cultural heritage-making could become part of such residual governance, delegated exclusively to local authorities and NGOs. However, the UK examples of Sellafield and Dounreay show that the nuclear industry is beginning to adopt a pro-active heritage strategy. This strand will explore the social and institutional mechanisms that made this institutional innovation possible and, on this basis, will develop a new knowledge chain between researchers, heritage and nuclear industry representatives and policy-makers in the UK, Sweden and Lithuania to develop an approach to the sustainable governance of nuclear cultural heritage.

Project Team

Principal Investigators
  • Dr Eglė Rindzevičiūtė (UK)

    Associate Professor of Criminology and Sociology, Kingston University London.

    Eglė RINDZEVIČIŪTĖ, PhD in 2008 and Docent in 2012 in Culture Studies at Linköping University, Sweden. Previous positions at universities of Gothenburg (GRI); Linköping (Tema Q) and Centre d’études européennes, Sciences Po, Paris. Currently Associate Professor of Criminology and Sociology at Kingston University London, UK. Author of The Power of Systems: How Policy Sciences Opened Up the Cold War World (Cornell University Press 2016), co-editor of The Struggle for the Long-term in Transnational Science and Politics: Forging the Future (with Jenny Andersson, Routledge 2015) and editor of a special issue “Transforming Cultural Policy in Eastern Europe: The Endless Frontier” for International Journal of Cultural Policy. Profile page at Kingston University.

  • Prof Anna Storm (Sweden)

    Professor of Technology and Social Change at the Department of Thematic Studies at Linköping University.

    Anna STORM, PhD in 2008 in History of Technology at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) and Docent in 2016 in Human Geography at Stockholm University, Sweden. Since 2019 Professor of Technology and Social Change at Linköping University, Sweden. Author of Post-Industrial Landscape Scars (Palgrave Macmillan 2014). Profile page at Linköping University and at LinkedIn.

  • Dr Linara Dovydaitytė (Lithuania)

    Associate Professor of Art History at Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas.

    Linara DOVYDAITYTĖ, PhD in 2006 in Art History and Associate Professor in 2011 at Vytautas Magnus University (VMU), Kaunas, Lithuania. 2013-2021 was a head of the Department of Art History and Criticism at the Faculty of Arts, VMU. Since 2021 Research Fellow in Museum Studies at the Institute of Cultural Research, Tartu University, Estonia. Co- author of Communicating Culture: Institutions, Strategies, Audiences (VMU Press 2015) and Learning the Nuclear: Educational Tourism in (Post)Industrial Sites (Peter Lang 2021). Profile page at Vytautas Magnus University.