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Contaminated Futures: Caring for the Future and the Hanford Nuclear Reservation Pedro de la Torre III4/26/2013Experiments in Method

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Presentation on theme: "Contaminated Futures: Caring for the Future and the Hanford Nuclear Reservation Pedro de la Torre III4/26/2013Experiments in Method"— Presentation transcript:

1 Contaminated Futures: Caring for the Future and the Hanford Nuclear Reservation Pedro de la Torre III4/26/2013Experiments in Method

2 Overview  Hanford Nuclear Reservation (WA) began as a plutonium production facility for U.S. nuclear weapons complex during WWII  Seventy year legacy of toxic and radioactive contamination, including intentional release of dangerous radionuclides

3 Overview  Investigate the politics, history, and ethical reasoning surrounding site  Explore environmental and intergenerational justice issues surrounding nuclear waste & contamination

4 Overview  Complex stakeholder process involved in governing Hanford cleanup  Given the degree of soil and groundwater contamination and the long half-lives of the contaminants, ethical obligations to current and future generations are negotiated implicitly or explicitly in Hanford cleanup

5 Overview Research Problems 1. How are future imaginaries generated in the present, and how do they affect the politics and governance of nuclear waste and remediation? 2. How are intergenerational ethics negotiated in debates about environmental remediation and nuclear waste?

6 Overview So, what is a ‘future Imaginary’ anyway?  Connotes formation of ‘mental (& sociocultural) images,’ not ‘unreal’  Ethics:  Obligation?  "Discount?"  Philosophy (e.g., utilitarian)  Basis for Recognition  Specificity  Scale:  Temporal  Geographical  Specificity  Analogies (spaces of experience):  Scale (time and space)  Events  Narratives  References  Continuities:  Technoscientifi c  Sociocultural  Territorial  Government/p olitical  Ecological  Of Knowledge  Discontinuities:  Technoscientifi c  Sociocultural  Territorial  Government/p olitical  Ecological  Of Knowledge  Representations:  Subject positioning? (e.g., "generations")  Media (e.g., images, tables, imagined scenarios, etc.)  Rhetorical strategies  Specificity  Stake innoculation  Speaking for or about future generations?  Dissemination  Method (e.g., prediction based on extrapolation of current statistical trends):  Nature of truth claim:  Procedures (e.g., experimentatio n)  Data  Political/power/go vernance implications:  Authority  Regulatory/Leg al tie-in  What controversies is it implicated in?  How does it connect/challe nge dominant discourses/con sensuses?  How does it construct the present?  Implicate change of priorities/areas of concern  "Type?" (e.g., security, transition, development, risk, etc.)

7 Overview This work will interact with at least three key literatures in the social sciences:  Social temporalities  Environment, Nature, & Risk  Subjects: Ethics, Rights, and Representation Social Temporalities This work explores the complex relationships between history, memory, the “present,” expectations, and prediction in governance and the making of spaces.

8 Overview This work will interact with at least three key literatures in the social sciences:  Social temporalities  Environment, Nature, & Risk  Subjects: Ethics, Rights, and Representation  Environment, Nature, & Risk Writings in this category explore the often dangerous aspects of sociotechnical systems, the distribution of “environmental” risks, the concepts through which “nature” or the “environment” is or should be understood, and the ways that these topics shape various socialities, knowledges, and politics.

9 Overview This work will interact with at least three key literatures in the social sciences:  Social temporalities  Environment, Nature, & Risk  Subjects: Ethics, Rights, and Representation Subjects: Ethics, Rights, and Representation These works explore not only the study of ethical practice and imaginaries, but also the relation between the ethical, political, and legal; the recognition and representation of subjects, particularly “distant” ones; and the recognition of injury, harm, or suffering.

10 Continuing problems and controversies over threats that the site presents, including:  Leaking radwaste tanks  Threat of tank explosions  Ecological costs of remediation activities  Pace of cleanup  Vitrification plant “Downwinders” are still in litigation for compensation, and the link between their exposures and their illnesses is controversial Current & future remediation efforts Why Study Hanford Now?

11 Context of austerity and “late industrialism” Broader controversies over nuclear waste & nuclear energy Widening gap between sustainability discourse, and the intergenerational ethics it implies, and ecological legacies Why Study Hanford Now

12 Method Field Sites Ethnography  Semi-structured interviews  Participant observation  Attending events  Purposive & snowball sampling Richland, WA  Primary site of fieldwork, borders the Hanford Nuclear Reservation  Host to most stakeholder meetings and similar events  Near the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory  Other sites of interests, such as implicated American Indian reservation, relatively close by Washington, DC  Short visits  Interviews with NGO, Policy, and Regulatory actors  Access to relevant events Study Components

13 Method Texts Discourse Analysis  Critical discourse analysis  Subject formation  Constructions of time, place, and space  Forms of recognition  Issues of representation  (Counter)hegemonic discourses  Universality, generality, specificity Interview transcripts Official documents Photographs, films, and visual art projects Press releases & speeches Meeting notes & agendas lists News reports Museum exhibits & tours Scientific studies Study Components

14 Attending Hanford Advisory Board Meetings Semi-structured interviews Attend meetings of relevant organizations & movements Examine archives Hanford site tours Attend community meetings & events Attend relevant hearings and events in Washington, DC and beyond Activities and Questions

15 Study Components Environmental Groups Scientists and Engineers Federal Government Officials First Nations Government Officials & Activists Downwinders & Allies Labor Unions & Related Groups State Government Officials Contractors Kinds of Subjects

16 Plan of Work WhenWhat Current / Ongoing Basic research and project design Summer 2013Transcription, grant applications, basic research Early JunePreliminary field site visit to Richland & regional sites of interests July/AugustInterviews in Washington, DC Spring 2014Dissertation Proposal Fall 2014 – Summer 2015 Fieldwork Fall Spring 2016 Dissertation writing / defense Schedule

17 Plan of Work Academic Community Journal articlesBookConferences General Public Magazine / blog articles Interviews Events (e.g., Hanford photo and/or visual arts show) Research Subjects ConferencesInternal presentations Participation in campaigns & events Dissemination

18 About Me I am a first year PhD student at RPI’s Science and Technology Studies Department. Before that, I completed an M.A. in Anthropology at the New School for Social Research. My areas of interest include nuclear waste and politics, disaster studies, social theory, and temporality. Credits & Bio Image credits: stopnewnukes, EMSL, PNNL - Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, & idyllopusstopnewnukesEMSLPNNL - Pacific Northwest National Laboratory idyllopus


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