Symposium: The Nuclear Imaginary in Transnational Perspective

Friday-Saturday, February 10-11, 2017
Duke University

How do you see nuclear energy? Are you even aware of its presence? For many people the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi reactors in 2011 came out of the blue. Most Japanese were not aware of the 53 reactors in their country, let alone the dangers they posed. Yet Japanese were hardly alone in their ignorance. Every nuclear disaster seems as impossible as the previous one, even though activists, journalists, and artists around the world have been laboring for years to publicize and dramatize the presence and risks of fissioning reactors.

This two-day workshop aims to explore the imagery of nuclear power, protest, risk, and disaster in historical and transnational perspective. Through photographs, comics, paintings, and contaminated landscapes from the United States, Japan, India, Germany, and Australia, ranging in date from the 1970s to the post-Fukushima present, we hope to help each other see nuclear power more vividly by considering the various ways people have visualized the supposedly invisible matter of nuclear risk and disaster.

Organized by Jieun Cho and Ryan Holmberg, with Anne Allison

Sponsors: Kenan Institute for Ethics; Asian Pacific Studies Institute; Department of Cultural Anthropology; Department of Art, Art History & Visual Studies; Dean of the Humanities

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Session 1: Visualizing Nuclear Risk and Contamination
Fri 2/10/17 @ Fredric Jameson Gallery, Friedl Building, East Campus

“Radioactive Bodies and Imaging Phantoms in Coastal Fukushima”
Morimoto Ryo, Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University

“From Trinity to Koodankulam: the Transnational Nuclear Imaginary in Photography Since Fukushima”
Prajna Desai, Independent Writer and Curator, Mumbai

Film Screening: “Nuclear Nation: Part 1” (2012)
Directed by Funahashi Atsushi
Introduction by Jieun Cho, PhD Student, Cultural Anthropology, Duke University

Session 2: Nuclear Comics in the Age of Nuclear Energy
Sat 2/11/17 @ Fredric Jameson Gallery, Friedl Building, East Campus
10 AM-1 PM

“I SAW IT: Activist Comics in America’s Nuclear Age”
Leonard Rifas, Comics creator, founder of EduComics, Instructor at Seattle Central College

“Atomu’s Jungle: Early Post-Nuclear Manga of the 1970s”
Ryan Holmberg, Visiting Lecturer and Postdoctoral Associate, Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Duke University

“Nuclear Power? Nein, Danke! – Germany's Anti-Nuclear Comics”
Matthew Hambro, PhD Candidate, German Studies, Duke University and UNC Chapel Hill