Biological Citizenship Blog

One story of biological citizenship that I found very compelling was that of Lev, a forty-eight year old cab driver from Chernobyl. For “one month and five days” following the Chernobyl incident, he had driven an army general around the Zone as he examined the burial sites of the technical equipment that had been contaminated. When the time came to be examined and evaluated for what kind of pensions they would receive, this army general was said to have ARS with a level one diagnosis (the most severe and therefore garnering the greatest pension) and he only got a level three. Lev felt that this was an extreme form of injustice. Unlike Rita, however, knew “that it was futile to pursue [biological] truth”. Instead of fighting for an ARS diagnosis (he had also been originally diagnosed with VvD), he studied up on his symptoms and tried to stretch them to give him the best possible outcome. “Lev engaged his symptoms, like an abacus”. He also utilized his connections with key members of the system and “surrounded himself with social and symbolic resources”, including Adriana Petryna, to help his case. He was well learned in how to work with the medical system to avoid its discrimination and sought justice by joining a fund or fond “which mediated the interactions of sufferers and the disabled with state and clinical institutions” and offering his services in exchange for theirs.

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