Linking Multiple Sites of Radioactive Contamination: Scientific Indeterminacy and Alternative Media.

Authors: Targol Mesbah*, California Institute of Integral Studies
Topics: Political Geography
Keywords: Nuclear Geographies, Radioactive Contamination
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: 8224, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Uneven geographies of radioactive contamination from uranium mining and deployed depleted uranium weaponry suggest environmental racism, environmentalism of the poor, and militarized capitalist extractivism are indispensable analytics for understanding how particular spaces and populations persist as sites of normalized violence and abandonment (Nixon, 2013). At the same time, military, state and international corporate interests are not beholden to epidemiological studies that suggest a connection between radioactive toxicity from uranium tailings or spent depleted uranium weapons and long-term health consequences including cancer and birth defects. While epidemiological studies maintain such a connection, they are nonetheless unable to establish direct causality in determining a specific etiology of illnesses. This paper situates the problematic of scientific indeterminacy within recent scholarship that reconsiders the dualistic epistemological underpinnings of how science thinks the ecological by critiquing the limits of scientific knowledge production based on the Great Divide between “Nature” and “Politics” and argues for the importance of alternative, local and activist knowledges (Santos 2014, Moore 2015, de la Cadena 2015). I draw on specific examples of activist and alternative media practices that animate different temporalities and geographies in connecting radioactive contamination from uranium mining in the Southwest of the United States to depleted uranium weaponry in the Middle East to think through what other knowledges might be possible amidst the otherwise uncertain.

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