The first workshop of our three-year project “Reconstructing Radiation and the Downwinders Case” was held in late June. It was an extraordinary event spanning two days, and it included scholars, activists, and community members. We learned a great deal about what is at stake when telling stories of radiation and developing histories of science that include perspectives of victims of exposure. More to come! The main page of the OSU Downwinders Project is here.

Workshop Program

Telling the Stories of Radiation Exposure

International Research Workshop

21-22 June, 2018, Oregon State University, Memorial Union 211

Corvallis, Oregon, USA

This workshop is organized by Jacob Darwin Hamblin and Linda M. Richards at Oregon State University (OSU). It is part of National Science Foundation Award #1734618, “Reconstructing Nuclear Environments and the Hanford Downwinders Case,” a collaborative effort between Environmental Arts and Humanities, History of Science, and the Special Collections and Archives Research Center. It is one of three workshops planned between 2018 and 2020.

What is at stake when researching and narrating the history of radiation exposure? This broad question is intended to provoke discussion among scholars, activists, and other citizens about the many challenges in researching, writing, or talking about past exposures to radiation. The histories of so-called “Downwinders” are contentious, in part because of ongoing litigation and scientific controversy. Yet the story must be told, and we must face the challenge.

In our first workshop, we wish to think broadly (not limited to the Hanford case) about methodological, conceptual, ethical, or social justice challenges that must be considered as we try to grapple with this past.

By “workshop,” we mean a gathering of presentations and conversations geared toward helping one another improve the quality of scholarship and public discourse. We have solicited proposals in two distinct groups, with an eye toward mixing academic and non-academic participants.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Participants arrive

6pm: Opening informal social time at Sky High Brewery rooftop (not catered)

Thursday, June 21, 2018

9:00 Welcoming remarks and orientation for the day (Jacob Darwin Hamblin)

9:20 Poetry reading (Patricia Hoover)

Measuring Harm

9:30 Sumiko Hatakeyama (University of Pennsylvania)

Hibakusha, the Atomic Bomb, and the History of Radiation Dosimetry Systems

10:30 Keith Meyers (National Bureau of Economic Research)

Casualties of the Cold War: Measuring the Social Costs of Nuclear Peace

11:30 Lunch (catered, vegan) and Discussion

Mary X. Mitchell (Cornell University and Purdue University)

Nuclear Technologies and the Limits of Law

 

Legal Recourse and Invisibility

12:45 Desmond Doulatram (REACH-MI)

Marshallese Downwinders and a Shared Nuclear Legacy of Global Proportions

1:45 Laureen Nussbaum (Portland State University) and Patricia Hoover (Hanford Downwinder)

Observed Health Effects of Ionizing Radiation: A Community-based Survey

2:45 break

The Meaning of Contamination

3:00 Helen Jaccard (Golden Rule Peace Boat)

Consequences for the people of Fukushima and Tokyo due to the Japanese Government and TEPCO’s Policies regarding Radiological Contamination

4:00 Gisela Mateos and Edna Suárez-Díaz (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México)

Producing Ignorance and Silence in Mexico: Chernobyl and the Powdered Milk of Conasupo

5:00 Break (Dinner is not provided)

8:00pm Film Viewing and Discussion with Oliver Tapaha (Diné College), The Return of Navajo Boy (52 min.). THIS FILM VIEWING IS AT ILLC, NOT MEMORIAL UNION

Friday, June 22, 2018

9:00 Opening remarks and orientation for the day (Linda M. Richards)

 

In Pursuit of Meaningful Methodologies

9:30 Valerie Kuletz (Independent Scholar)

Nuclear Truth Claims and Anecdotal Knowledge

10:30 Britt Dahlberg (Science History Institute)

Engaging Toxicity in Context: Asbestos, Oral History, Theater, and the Grounds for Dialogue

11:30 Lunch (catered, vegan) and Discussion/Brainstorm of Next Steps (Jacob Darwin Hamblin)

 

Science, Evidence, and Invisibility

12:30 Emily Yates-Doerr (Oregon State University)

Fallout: Nuclear Stories, Truth, and the Half-Lives of Memory

1:30 Jonathan Luedee (University of British Columbia)

Body Burden: A Historical Geography of Radioactive Exposures in the Canadian Arctic

2:30 break

 

Injustice and Official Narratives

3:00 Cindy Folkers (Beyond Nuclear)

Radiation Research has Overlooked Disproportionate Impacts: What Can We Do About It?

4:00 N. A. J. Taylor (University of Melbourne)

Towards a Narrative Nuclear Politics: From Trinity to Monte Bello, Emu, and Maralinga

END OF WORKSHOP

5:30 Please join us for informal social time at McMenamins on Monroe (not catered)

Original Call for Papers

Reconstructing Nuclear Environments and the Hanford Downwinders Case

Workshop #1: “Telling the Stories of Radiation Exposure.” June 21-22, 2018 (Thursday and Friday)

It is a pleasure to invite proposals to the workshop, “Telling the Stories of Radiation Exposure.” This workshop is organized by Jacob Darwin Hamblin and Linda M. Richards at Oregon State University (OSU), as part of National Science Foundation Award #1734618, “Reconstruction Nuclear Environments and the Hanford Downwinders Case.” It is one of three workshops planned between 2018 and 2020.

Theme

What is at stake when researching and narrating the history of radiation exposure? This broad question is intended to provoke discussion among scholars, activists, and other citizens about the many challenges in researching, writing, or talking about past exposures to radiation. The histories of so-called “Downwinders” are contentious, in part because of ongoing litigation and scientific controversy. Yet the story must be told, and we must face the challenge.

We wish to think broadly about methodological, conceptual, ethical, or social justice challenges that must be considered as we try to grapple with this past. Proposal topics need not deal specifically with the Hanford Downwinders case; indeed, we would like to draw insights from those familiar with the history of radiation exposure in other historical contexts and in other parts of the United States and wider world. Our goal is to gather original contributions that not only can guide the work of our Downwinders project (which includes oral history, archival development, and original scholarship), but also can generate productive conversations about the kinds of issues all scholars should address when conducting such work.

By “workshop,” we mean a gathering of presentations and conversations geared toward helping one another improve the quality of scholarship and public discourse. In this workshop, we are soliciting proposals in two distinct groups, with an eye toward mixing academic and non-academic participants:

  1. historians and other humanities or social science scholars. We welcome proposals from historians of science, STS scholars, environmental historians, and others familiar with the historical dimensions of public health and environmental exposure. The topic should connect empirical historical work to an important methodological challenge, or to a historiographic question of broad importance. The proposer should hold a Ph.D. in a relevant field, or be an advanced Ph.D. student in a relevant field. The proposal should be original, with the idea that it could be developed as a peer-reviewable essay. The contribution should not be a duplicate of previous or forthcoming work.
  2. individuals whose personal and/or professional lives can shed light on this work. We are especially interested in engaging with discourse outside the academic world, among communities suffering from exposure or studying effects of exposure. The participant  should be prepared to speak about the subject and participate in the discussions throughout the workshop. The participant should indicate whether s/he would be willing to have a transcription made of the presentation, and if s/he would be willing to be interviewed for the project (these are not required but it will help us to think about how to organize the workshop). Transcriptions would be held in OSU’s Special Collections and Archives Research Center.

Practical details

Date of workshop: June 21-22, 2018

Deadline for submission: January 15, 2018

Costs: We anticipate defraying some of the costs of travel for participants in the workshop.

Email queries and submissions to: downwinders@oregonstate.edu

What to submit: a) an abstract of one page or less explaining the topic/theme of your contribution, including mention of specific events that will feature in your contribution (see above for overview of the two different kinds of contributions); b) a paragraph biographical sketch

Please review the grant overview before sending a proposal.

Link to the conference website

Research Opportunities

While at OSU, workshop participants will be encouraged to make use of our extensive holdings at the Special Collections and Archives Research Center, which include:

Nuclear History

The Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers 

Final thoughts

The overall purpose of the project is to digitize records, analyze documents, record oral histories, and share different perspectives on radiation exposure, the process of dose reconstruction, and other issues related to the Downwinders case. This grant supports the first wave of scholarship on how scientists reconstructed Hanford radiation exposure doses during the 1990s.

This first workshop will ground scholars’ future work by addressing conceptual and methodological challenges confronting historical work on radiation exposure, broadly conceived across time and geography. Future workshops will focus on more specific historical topics, especially related to dose reconstruction at Hanford.

We look forward to seeing you at the workshop!

Sincerely, Jake Hamblin and Linda Richards

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