2020 Workshop: “75 Years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Science and the Contested Histories of Radiation Exposure”

Oregon State University

Corvallis, Oregon USA

Theme: “Making the Unseen Visible.”

August 5-7, 2020 (Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday)

Welcome to the third workshop of the OSU Downwinders Project, funded by National Science Foundation Award #1734618. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the workshop format has been revised to be a Zoom meeting. Although this is not ideal, and it eliminates many of the public outreach events (as well as informal networking opportunities), we are pressing on. Participants are joining from several different time zones across the world, and we have scheduled the workshop hours accordingly.

Each presenter will speak for 10-15 minutes summarizing the contents of a paper written beforehand. These papers will be made available for workshop participants. The remainder of the time for each presenter will be devoted to 1) a brief commentary from another workshop participant, and 2) Q&A from workshop participants and other observers, posed in Zoom chat. There will be a moderator who will read the group chat and pose the questions.

Papers are drafts and are not made available to the public, in keeping with the “workshop” format (we plan to include the papers in an edited book about the history of radiation exposure). However, you may request more information directly from any of the authors.

The meeting is open to the public without registration.



PW if prompted: 231328

ALL TIMES ARE USA Pacific Time (Los Angeles/San Francisco/Seattle)

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

7AM Welcome from Jacob Hamblin and Linda Richards

730AM Introductions (all) and Instructions


Joshua McGuffie (UCLA), “The First Accounts of the Atomic Bomb Disease”

Comment by Matthew Lavine (Mississippi State University)


Patricia Hoover (Hanford downwinder), “Hanford Downwinders and the US Government: Reparations of Chicanery?” pre-recorded interview by Linda Richards, Kristina Beggen, and Adrian Monty, with discussion

Thursday, August 6, 2020

7AM (11PM Japan; 4PM Spain)

Jaroslav Krasny (Hiroshima University), “Nuclear Weapons, Ionizing Radiation, and the Principle of Unnecessary Suffering”

Comment by Tatiana Kasperski (Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona)


David Elijah Bell (St. John Fisher College), “‘Better Than Nothing?’: Uncertainties of Health, History, and Radioactive Remediation for the Buffalo District FUSRAP and Tonawanda Landfill Site”

Comment by William Knoblauch (Finlandia University)


Sasha Stiles (Rocky Flats downwinder) and Edward Granados (member, Physicians for Social Responsibility), “Rocky Flats Health History: Making Risk Visible”

Comment by Cindy Folkers (beyondnuclear.org)


Hiroshima commemoration remarks and discussion led by Linda Richards

Friday, August 7, 2020

7AM (10PM or 11PM East Asia, 4PM Western Europe)

Session on current work in progress (with contributions from Monamie Haines, Casper Sylvest, and others)


Austin Cooper (University of Pennsylvania), “Saharan Fallout, U.S. Equipment, and an “Old-Time Fall-Out Collector” in 1960s Tunisia”

Comment by Prerna Gupta (University of British Columbia)


Jeffrey C. Sanders (Washington State University), “Assaying Risk: Project Sunshine and the Half lives of Strontium 90”

Comment by Mary X. Mitchell (Purdue University)


Discussion of Next Steps (all) and Closing Remarks by Jacob Hamblin

Below is the original Call for Papers

2020 Workshop: “75 Years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Science and the Contested Histories of Radiation Exposure”

Theme: “Making the Unseen Visible.”

August 5-7, 2020 (Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday)

Please note that this conference coincides with the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima (August 6). The research workshop will be integrated with public events related to the commemoration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

We invite proposals on the theme “Making the Unseen Visible.” In the three quarters of a century since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, how have scientists, scholars, and activists sought to make visible the unseen pathways of radionuclides, radiation, and their environmental and human health effects? How have such claims been contested? You might consider such related questions as: How have indigenous peoples and disempowered groups made their voices heard? What roles have advocacy organizations played in drawing into public discourse the risks, threats, or harm from nuclear sites? How have scientists disagreed amongst themselves, and how have they negotiated consensus? Related questions, drawn from your own research, also are welcome.

This workshop is organized by Jacob Darwin Hamblin and Linda M. Richards, as part of the OSU Downwinders Project. Funding comes from our National Science Foundation Award #1734618, “Reconstruction Nuclear Environments and the Hanford Downwinders Case.” Note: proposal topics need not deal specifically with the Hanford Downwinders case. 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, in the entire period since 1945. Please see the 2018 workshop program and the 2019 workshop program for examples of the range of topics.

Please note the opportunities to conduct research while at OSU, particularly in the nuclear history collections at the Special Collections and Archives Research Center. For those wishing an extended visit to the archives, consider a residency fellowship.

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 explicitly draw on the proposer’s own research, and address a question pertinent to the workshop theme. The proposer should hold a Ph.D. in a relevant field, or be a Ph.D. student in a relevant field. The proposal should be original, with the understanding that a draft will be submitted for commentary during the workshop. It will become part of an edited book project underway, building off of essays from Workshop #2.
  1. 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).

Outcome: we intend the essays in this workshop to be integrated with last year’s essays in a book project for a university press (we are already in conversation with a press). Proposers should expect that they are producing original work that will be published, after peer review, in an edited volume that blends scholarly research, interview excerpts, and other primary sources about the contested histories of radiation exposure.

Practical Details:

Date of workshop: 5-7 August 2020

Deadline for submission: Feb 15 (notification of acceptance by Mar 1)

Deadline for draft: July 15 (to be circulated to workshop participants)

Costs: We anticipate defraying the costs of lodging, catering, and travel for most participants.

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.

We look forward to seeing you at the workshop!

Sincerely, Jake Hamblin and Linda Richards

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