Day 2

Ethics, Economics and Communication: Forging alternative pathways

Day 2 of a five-day workshop into the problem of nuclear harm sponsored by the 2016 O’Donnell Endowed Chair in Global Studies.

A stoneware ceramic tablet from the from the Nuclear Deferral exhibition. All the images are taken inside Onkalo, the world’s first final disposal site for spent nuclear fuel. October 2015.  Image by N.A.J. Taylor
Sunday, September 25, 2016
Maxey Building W42, Whitman College, Walla Walla, WA

On Day 2 we explore alternative pathways towards a world empty of nuclear weapons. The three scenarios variously deploy strategies drawn from Ethics, Economics, and Communication Studies—although there are others that you are free to explore also (e.g. gender, and queer studies, the uranium political economy, music, etc.). At the beginning of each session smaller groups of participants are provided with “packets” of information that detail particular aspects of a dilemma. 1 hour and 45 minutes is then provided for each smaller group to “respond” to it. As in any jig-saw exercise, as each smaller group reports their findings back to the wider group, the broader puzzle is complete.

Which alternative pathway(s) to nuclear-free worlds, if any, do you want to explore?

Scenario 1: Inter-communal Dialogue

You have visited the far-future. The world of the future is empty of nuclear weapons, and from what you saw and heard people are living in relative peace and harmony, not only with each other but also the non-human world. You form the view that this is because the doctrine of nuclear deterrence no longer holds. When you return to the present day you feel strongly about achieving a world empty of nuclear weapons. The question is: how do you enlighten others to your new way of thinking?

Preparatory text/s:

Shampa Biswas, ‘Decolonizing the Nuclear World: Can the Subaltern Speak?’, Nuclear Desire: Power and the Postcolonial Nuclear Order, University of Minnesota Press, 2014, 171-99.

David Krieger and Richard Falk, ‘Introduction’, The Path to Zero: Dialogues on Nuclear Dangers, Paradigm Publishers, 2012, xv-xvi.

N.A.J. Taylor, Joseph A. Camilleri, and Michael Hamel-Green, ‘Dialogue on Middle East Biological, Nuclear, and Chemical Weapons Disarmament Con- straints and Opportunities’, Alternatives: Global, Local, Political, Vol.38 Is.1, 2013, 78–98.

A sample of the co-produced slides
from the 2016 Nuclear Humanities workshop.

Rights reserved by N.A.J. Taylor
Scenario 2: Divestment and Engagement

You have setup a meeting with your bank manager. But when you arrive for the meeting you find the manager standing in the street talking to a good number of people who are picketing the front door. You discover for the first time that your bank is financing nuclear weapons producers, both in the United States and overseas. The question is: what do you do next?

Preparatory text/s

Scenario 3: Far-Future Communication

The incoming President announces that s/he has agreed to unilaterally disarm America’s nuclear arsenal. You have been appointed by the federal government to communicate the presence of the resultant (and existing) high-level radioactive nuclear waste into the far-future. You have been made aware that this will involve curating both scientific and aesthetic materials, and that these future beings may not speak the languages or recognise the symbols that are widely-used today (i.e. for radioactivity). The question is: what materials make it onto your final list?

Preperatory text/s:

‘WIPP Exhibit to 12,000 A.D.’, U.S. Department of Energy, 1984.

‘How will future generations be warned?’, U.S. Department of Energy, Carlsbad Field Office, Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, January 2003.

Andrew Moisey, ‘Considering the Desire to Mark Our Buried Nuclear Waste: Into Eternity and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant’, Qui Parle: Critical Humanities and Social Sciences, Vol.20 Is.2, 2012, 101-25.

The 2016 Nuclear Humanities intensive workshop was designed and delivered by N.A.J. Taylor, on the invitation of Shampa Biswas, Chair of the Politics Department and Paul Garrett Professor of Political Science at Whitman College. It was sponsored by an O’Donnell Endowed Chair in Global Studies grant.