What is at stake in that label and how do such stakes vary by time and place?

write a paragraph and a multiple-choice question based on the article namedAfrica and the Nuclear World: Labor Occupational Health and the Transnational Production of Uranium and issue 5
write a paragraph and a multiple-choice question based on the article namedTAfrica and the Nuclear World: Labor Occupational Health and the Transnational Production of Uranium and issue 5.
Africa and the Nuclear World:
Labor Occupational Health and the
Transnational Production of Uranium
GABRIELLE HECHT
Department of History University of Michigan
What is Africas place in the nuclear world? In 1995 a U.S. government report
on nuclear proliferation did not mark Gabon Niger or Namibia as having any
nuclear activities.1 Yet these same nations accounted for over 25 percent of
world uranium production that year and helped fuel nuclear power plants in
Europe the United States and Japan. Experts had long noted that workers in
uranium mines were exposed to higher amounts of internal radiation
than . . . workers in any other segment of the nuclear energy industry.2
What then does it mean for a workplace a technology or a nation to be
nuclear? What is at stake in that label and how do such stakes vary by
time and place?
In both political and scientific discourse an apparently immutable ontology
has long distinguished nuclear things from non-nuclear ones. The distinction
has seemed transparent fixed and incontrovertibleultimately a matter of
fission and radioactivity. Scholarship on the history culture and politics of
the nuclear age has also assumed the self-evidence of nuclear things. No
one questions whether bombs and reactors are nuclear even while bitter
battles rage over their political military or moral legitimacy.
Acknowledgments: My biggest debts are to Paul Edwards and Bruce Struminger for their many
contributions. Useful comments also came from Soraya Boudia Geoff Eley Kenneth Garner
Michelle Murphy Martha Poon Christopher Sellers Matthew Shindell and the reviewers of this
journal as well as audiences in Minneapolis Toronto Eindhoven Stony Brook San Diego and
Madison.
1 Office of Technology Assessment Nuclear Safeguards and the International Atomic Energy
Agency OTA-ISS-615 Apr. 1995 App. B.
2 D. A. Holaday Some Unsolved Problems in Uranium Mining in International Atomic
Energy Agency International Labour Organisation and World Health Organization Radiological
Health and Safety in Mining and Milling of Nuclear Materials: Proceedings vol. 1 (International
Atomic Energy Agency 1964) 51.
Comparative Studies in Society and History 2009;51(4):896926.
0010-4175/09 $15.00 # Society for the Comparative Study of Society and History 2009
doi:10.1017/S001041750999017X
896
Beyond these clear-cut cases however the category of the nuclear has
never been defined by purely technical parameters. Like other master categories
that claim global purview the nuclear both inscribes and enacts politics of
inclusion and exclusion. Neither technical function nor radiation sufficed to
make African nations and their mines nuclear in geopolitical terms. Such outcomes
I have suggested elsewhere were closely tied to the political economy
of the nuclear industry with profound consequences for the legal and illegal
circulation of uranium and other radioactive materials and for the global institutions
and treaties governing nuclear systems.3 Here I argue that the historical
and geographical contingencies affecting the nuclear as a category have also
had significant consequences for the lives and health of mineworkers. I focus
on African uranium miners whose labor has fueled atomic weapons and
nuclear reactors around the world for over six decades. That these people
have been ignored both in histories of the nuclear age and by Africanists
speaks to mutually reinforcing assumptions about Africas place and lack of
place in a highly technological world. Challenging such assumptions requires
that we enter that world via its technologies.
The essay thus explores the nuclear world in Africa and Africa in the nuclear
world.4 I identify three moments of global imperception in the making and
legitimation of knowledge on radiation hazards: moments when African
people and workplaces went unaccounted for in global scientific knowledge
production. (Global here refers above all to the aims and claims of knowledge
producers.5) I juxtapose these moments with three uranium histories situated
in Madagascar Gabon and South Africa which analyze the labor
arrangements and regimes of perceptibility that produced such global imperceptions.
The production and dissolution of nuclear things in African places
I argue occurred in the friction between the transnational politics of knowledge
and (post)colonial power between abstract prescriptions and embodied instrumentalized
practices. Radiation infiltrated workers bodies; sometimes
however it also opened political possibilities.6
3 Gabrielle Hecht Nuclear Ontologies Constellations 13 3 (Sept. 2006): 32031; and
Negotiating Global Nuclearities: Apartheid Decolonization and the Cold War in the Making of
the IAEA in John Krige and Kai-Henrik Barth eds. Global Power Knowledge: Science Technology
and International Affairs special issue of Osiris 21 (July 2006): 2548.
4 For broader debates see Jean-Francois Bayart Africa in the World: A History of Extraversion
African Affairs 99 (2000): 21767.
5 I draw inspiration here from Frederick Cooper Colonialism in Question: Theory Knowledge
History (University of California Press 2005); James Ferguson Global Shadows: Africa in the
Neoliberal World Order (Duke University Press 2006); Geoff Eley Historicizing the Global Politicizing
Capital: Giving the Present a Name History Workshop Journal 63 (2007): 15688;
Antoinette Burton. Not Even Remotely Global? Method and Scale in World History History
Workshop Journal 64 (2007): 32328.
6 In this and other ways we might think of radiation as imperial debris; see Ann Laura Stoler
Imperial Debris: Reflections on Ruin and Ruination Cultural Anthropology 23 2: 191219.
A F R I C A A N D T H E N U C L E A R W O R L D 897
My core premise is that uranium mines are not born nuclear in part because
the nuclear is not merely about radiation. Instead I treat the nuclear as a
highly contingent technopolitical product of historical circumstances. Before
attending to my main argument let me explain what this means by surveying
what I call nuclear exceptionalism and briefly

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