Major projects in the Nuclear Humanities


Additional resources to consult following the conclusion of the  intensive workshop into the problem of nuclear harm.




A children’s embroidered reversible jacket celebrating the atomic testing at Eniwetok Atoll in the 1940s held at the Los Alamos Historical Society Archives. 
Image by N.A.J. Taylor

Although scholars from across the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences have responded to the emergence of nuclear harms for some time, there has been to date no unified discipline or (sub)field. Yet, as Robert Jacobs and I remarked in a recent volume on Hiroshima and Nagasaki there is a need for the alternative insights and understandings that can only be derived from a Nuclear Humanities:

“The entry of radionuclides into our ecosystem did not begin in Hiroshima, just as the detonation of nuclear weapons and perhaps even the dawn of the Anthropocene epoch did not begin in Hiroshima. Hiroshima, however, remains our touchstone, our talisman: the name given to our changed relationship to both nature and human technological culture. For those living 5,000 years in the future, the name Hiroshima may still resonate, but it will not be for the same reasons that it resonated with the journalists who participated in the 1999 survey. Thus, as we find ourselves in the early years of being liberated from seeing Hiroshima strictly in terms of World War Two, or in terms of our own vulnerability during the Cold War, we are in a unique position to begin a work that will be ongoing for scholars: re-imagining Hiroshima as it relates to current times, and not just the twentieth century. [...] In this way, this edited collection therefore constitutes one of the first works in the emerging field of Nuclear Humanities.” (Taylor and Jacobs, 2017, pp.2-3)

What is currently possible—and potentially valuable—is to profile a select number of major coteries, projects and initiatives that in some way exemplify the broad interdisciplinary field of the Nuclear Humanities: 

Archive of Nuclear Harm (led by N.A.J. Taylor at University of Melbourne, Australia)

Atomic Gardening (led by Paige Johnson)  

Atomic Heritage (led by Anna Storm at Södertörn University, Sweden)

Atomic Heritage Foundation (led by Cynthia Kelly)

Atomic Photographers Guild (led by Robert del Tredici)

Consequences of Radiation Exposure Museum (led by Trisha T. Pritikin)

Downwinders Project (led by Linda M. Richards and Jacob Darwin Hamblin at Oregon State University, United States)

Global Hibakusha Project (led by Robert Jacobs and Mick Broderick at Hiroshima City University, Japan)

Global Nuclear Order Working Group (a sub-group of the British International Studies Association)

Heritage Futures (led by Rodney Harrison at the University of College London Institute of Archaeology)

International Atomic Energy Agency History Research Project (led by Elisabeth Roehrlich at the University of Vienna, Austria)

Nuclear Cultural Heritage (led by Eglė Rindzevičiūtė at Kingston University at London, United Kingdom) 

Nuclear Culture (led by Ele Carpenter at Goldsmith's, University College London, United Kingdom)

Nuclear Culture Research Group (led by Ele Carpenter at Goldsmith's, University College London, United Kingdom)

Nuclear Families (led by Becky Alexis-Martin and Thom Davis at the University of Southhampton and Warwick University, United Kingdom)

Nuclear Futures (led by Paul Brown at the University of New South Wales, Australia)

Nuclear Knowledges (led by Benoît Pélopidas at Sciences Po, France)

Nuclear Legacies (led by Anna Storm at Södertörn University, Sweden)

Nuclear Studies Institute (led by Peter J. Kuznick at American University at Washington, United States)

Reinventing Civil Defense (led by Alex Wellerstein and Kristyn Karl at Stevens Institute of Technology, United States)

Responsible Nuclear Sovereignty (led by Nicholas J. Wheeler at the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom)

Rethinking Nuclear Weapons (led by Ward Wilson at British American Security Information Council)

The Atomic Age (led by Sarah Arehart, Norma Field, Michael Fisch, So Hye Kim, Aiko Kojima, Hoyt Long, Chico Masak, Yuki Miyamoto, John Person, and Tomomi Yamaguchi at the University of Chicago, United States)

Although such a list is not intended to be exhaustive, please do alert me of omissions by completing this form so that I might update the list. 

Works cited

N.A.J. Taylor and Robert Jacobs, ‘On Hiroshima becoming history’, in N.A.J. Taylor and Robert Jacobs (eds.), Reimagining Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Nuclear Humanities in the post-Cold War, Routledge, U.K.: London, 2017, pp.2-3. [PDF]

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.