In the fall of 1961, President Kennedy somberly warned Americans about deadly radioactive fallout clouds extending hundreds of miles from H-bomb detonations, yet he approved ninety-six US nuclear weapon tests for 1962. Cold War nuclear testing, production, and disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima have exposed millions to dangerous radioactive particles; these millions are the global hibakusha. Many communities continue to be plagued with dire legacies and ongoing risks: sickness and early mortality, forced displacement, uncertainty and anxiety, dislocation from ancestors and traditional lifestyles, and contamination of food sources and ecosystems. Nuclear Bodies weaves these seemingly distinct legacies into a comprehensive global history, examining the colonialism(s) with which nuclear weapon states "select the irradiated," the political use of medical models to render their harm invisible, and the millennia-long legacies of our embrace of nuclear technologies. https://nuclearbodies.com
Nuclear Bodies: The Global Hibakusha, Yale University Press 2022
This event is co-sponsored by the Pacific Basin Institute and the Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College.
Related exhibition, Each Day Begins with the Sun Rising: Four Artists from Hiroshima was on view February 12–June 26, 2022 and featured contemporary Japanese artists Megumi Fukuda, Taro Furukata, Genki Isayama, and Kana Kou. Together, they explored the profound cultural, political, and social impacts of the United States’ World War II bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
About Bo Jacobs
Robert Jacobs is a Professor of History at the Hiroshima Peace Institute and the Graduate School of Peace Studies of Hiroshima City University. He is a historian of science and technology focused on nuclear technologies and radiation technopolitics. His book, Nuclear Bodies: The Global Hibakusha, published by Yale University Press this year, presents over a decade of field research conducted in more than 20 countries on the effects of radiation exposures to individuals and communities from nuclear weapon testing, production and accidents, globally. He has published and edited multiple books and articles on nuclear history and culture. Academia is a second career for Jacobs, who in a former life was a chef and worked in the organic produce industry.