Nuclear Geographies II: Between the spectacular and the banal

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Historical Geography Specialty Group, Energy and Environment Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: 8224, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Organizers: Jonathan Luedee, James Rhatigan
Chairs: Jonathan Luedee


The nuclear lends itself to the spectacular. Images of nuclear tests, mushroom clouds, and giant mutant ants loom large within popular imaginaries and scholarship of the ‘nuclear age’ (Kirsch,1997; Masco, 2004; Weart, 2012). Recent work within history, anthropology, and science studies has however sought to move beyond the mushroom clouds and sites of spectacular nuclearity to examine the banal and quotidian aspects of the ‘nuclear age’. This scholarship has been rich and varied. From Gabrielle Hecht’s (2012) work on uranium mining and trade, to Kate Brown’s (2013) comparative study of life in plutonium towns in the US and USSR, and Joseph Masco’s (2006) analysis of the long-term political and cultural legacies of the Manhattan Project, this work has productively uncovered the “everyday consequences of life within a nuclear economy” (Masco, 2008: 16).

In geography, Pitkanen and Farish (2017) and Alexis‐Martin and Davies (2017) have similarly argued for us to attend to the ways in which everyday nuclear spaces are produced and reproduced. These and other authors, have drawn attention to the uneven geographies of nuclearity and have examined how certain landscapes and bodies are enrolled in and impacted by nuclear practices in seemingly mundane – and often invisible – yet significant ways. In doing so, they have shown how the histories and geographies of nuclearity are entangled with those of colonialism, race, gender, and class.

In this session we seek to build on this emergent critical nuclear geography. In particular, we invite papers that examine the banal and overlooked practices, places, and events through which nuclear geographies have been and continue to be produced, reproduced, contested, and resisted. To this end, we welcome papers from diverse conceptual, empirical and geographic perspectives on issues such as (but not limited to):

Historical geographies of radiation exposures
The political ecologies of uranium extraction
Nuclear colonialism
Geographies of nuclear experimentation
Risk and nuclear technology
Secrecy and the nuclear state
Radioactive waste and nuclear legacies
Nuclear medicine and health geographies
Anti-nuclear activism, resistance, and environmentalism
Tensions between the spectacular and mundane aspects of nuclearity


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter James Rhatigan*, University of British Columbia, Making nuclear space: Technoscientific networks and the geographies of Cold War nuclear experimentation. 20 9:55 AM
Presenter Jonathan Luedee*, University of British Columbia, The Contested Boundaries of the Nuclear North: Visualizing, Measuring, and Mapping Radiation Exposures in the North American Arctic, 1963-1969 20 10:15 AM
Presenter Jacquelyn Southern*, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Nuclear Rhetoric: Time and Space in Cold War America 20 10:35 AM
Presenter Daisaku Yamamoto*, Colgate University, Geographical Political Economy of Nuclear Power Plant Closure 20 10:55 AM
Presenter Stephanie Postar*, University of Oxford, (Re)Remembering the Past, Foreseeing a Radiant Future in southern Tanzania 20 11:15 AM

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