Paper pub. date
November 2023
ISBN 9780870712531 (paperback)
6 x 9, 400 pages. 4 b&w photos. 3 tables. Notes. Index.
Available November 2023

Making the Unseen Visible

Science and the Contested Histories of Radiation Exposure

Jacob Darwin Hamblin and Linda Marie Richards

Many of the effects of nuclear fallout and radiation have been intentionally hidden by governments around the world. Public knowledge has been driven by activists demanding recognition and justice. Many Downwinders fought for years, in the press and in the courts, to have their health and environmental concerns taken seriously. Just as radiation is invisible, many of these stories continue to be unseen.

From 2017 to 2020, Jacob Hamblin and Linda Richards facilitated the Oregon State University Downwinders Project, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, to support research and scholarship on the Downwinders cases near the Hanford nuclear site in Washington. Additionally, each summer the project team sponsored a workshop that brought a variety of stakeholders together to explore the science, history, and lived history of radiation exposure. These workshops took a broad view of nuclear contamination, beyond Hanford, beyond the United States, and beyond academia. Community members and activists presented their testimonies and creative work alongside scholars studying exposure worldwide.

Making the Unseen Visible collects some of the best work arising from the project and its workshops. Scholarly research chapters and reflective essays cover topics and experiences ranging from colonial nuclear testing in North Africa to uranium mining in the Navajo Nation and battles over public memory around Hanford. Scholarship on nuclear topics has largely happened on a case study basis, focusing on individual disasters or locations. Making the Unseen Visible brings a variety of current community and scholarly work together to create a clearer, larger web uniting nuclear humanities research across time and geography.

About the author

Jacob Darwin Hamblin is a professor of history at Oregon State University and the author of five books, including The Wretched Atom: America’s Global Gamble with Peaceful Nuclear Technology.

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Linda Marie Richards is a historian of science who writes and teaches about the places where nuclear and environmental history converge with human rights. She coedited with Jacob Hamblin a special issue of Journal of the History of Biology, "Connecting to the Living History of Radiation Exposure," and is currently writing a book entitled Human Rights and Nuclear Wrongs.

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