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Online Talk: “An Auto/Ethnography of Human Rights and Nuclear Wrongs”
July 28, 2022 at 6:00 pm
In 1986, Linda Marie Richards set out with the Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament to walk across the USA from Los Angeles to DC. What she learned from Hopi, Dine (Navajo), Pueblo, and Shoshone elders directed her to live in protest ever since. She wants to know why scientists and decision makers, who were willing to embrace eugenics to prevent the white race from being “contaminated” by other cultures, risked the actual contamination of all beings from radiation and fallout during massive nuclear weapons tests. Pollution from nuclear technologies and tests occurred long before the effects of radiation were properly understood.
Today, new researchers are investigating how radiation regulation protection regimes were developed. Academics and scientists are studying the physical and socio-emotional consequences for those exposed in terms of their lived experience. Planetary-scale harms, such as the possible acceleration of the climate crisis due to the effects of the equivalence of 35,000 Hiroshimas worldwide from nuclear tests are now being broached. Her work asks, how are eugenics, white supremacy, and nuclear pollution related to what we think of as human rights and the climate crisis? Where does the United Nations, radiation, and the work for human rights regimes fit? These are questions that drive her research in the forthcoming environmental humanities book on Human Rights and Nuclear Wrongs for West Virginia University Press’s Energy and Society series.
Linda Marie Richards in an instructor in history at Oregon State University. She received her PhD in 2014 for a dissertation on “Rocks and Reactors: An Atomic Interpretation of Human Rights, 1941–1979.” Her work in nuclear history has appeared in Peace & Change, the Chemical Heritage Magazine, and Historia Scientiarum, among other venues.
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