Being nuclear : Africans and the global uranium trade by Gabrielle Hecht

By Gabrielle Hecht

Uranium from Africa has lengthy been an enormous resource of gasoline for nuclear persistent and atomic guns, together with the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. In 2003, after the notorious ''yellow cake from Niger,'' Africa without warning turned infamous as a resource of uranium, an element of nuclear guns. yet did that admit Niger, or any of Africa's different uranium-producing international locations, to the opt for society of nuclear states? Does uranium itself count number as a nuclear factor? during this publication, Gabrielle Hecht lucidly probes the query of what it ability for something--a country, an item, an undefined, a workplace--to be ''nuclear.''

Hecht exhibits that questions about being nuclear--a country that she calls ''nuclearity''--lie on the center of ultra-modern worldwide nuclear order and the relationships among ''developing nations'' (often former colonies) and ''nuclear powers'' (often former colonizers). Hecht enters African nuclear worlds, targeting miners and the occupational danger of radiation publicity. may well a mine be a nuclear office if (as in a few South African mines) its radiation degrees went undetected and unmeasured? With this publication, Hecht is the 1st to place Africa within the nuclear global, and the nuclear international in Africa. via doing so, she remakes our realizing of the nuclear age.

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In a 1942 medical textbook, Dr. indd 37 12/1/2011 10:46:20 AM 38 INTRODUCTION Workers in a uranothorianite mine in the Androy, Madagascar, 1950s. CEA veterans liked the exotic look of this image. (courtesy of Cogéma) malignancy resulting from the exposure to radioactive ores is represented by the cobalt mines . .

The mines then either ship the ore out for further processing or take the next step themselves and produce yellowcake. The bottom line: uranium mines, in all their diversity, looked a lot like other mines. Underground operations were dangerous, dark, and dusty. French supervisors at the Mounana mine may have scoffed at Gabonese workers reluctant to work underground for fear of evil spirits. But regardless of whether or not spirits lurked, the work was terrifying, with its constant danger of shafts collapsing or methane exploding.

The qualities that make a nation, a program, a technology, a material, or a workplace count as “nuclear” remain unstable, even today. 12 My term for this contested terrain of being, this unsettled classificatory scheme, is nuclearity. Nuclearity, this book argues, is a contested technopolitical category. It shifts in time and space. Its parameters depend on history and geography, science and technology, bodies and politics, radiation and race, states and capitalism. 13 Radiation matters, but its presence does not suffice to turn mines into nuclear workplaces.

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