Radioactive Ghosts

2020
Author:

Gabriele Schwab

Radioactive Ghosts

A pioneering examination of nuclear trauma, the continuing and new nuclear peril, and the subjectivities they generate

Focusing on the legacies of the Manhattan Project, Hiroshima, and nuclear energy politics, Radioactive Ghosts takes us on a tour of the little-seen sides of our nuclear world. Ranging from personal accounts of experiences with radiation to in-depth readings of literature, film, art, and scholarly works, Schwab gives us a complex, idiosyncratic, and personal analysis of one of the most overlooked issues of our time.

This book, a wake-up call and a tour de force of wide-ranging interdisciplinary scholarship, is beautifully written and accessible; Gabriele Schwab moves nuclear power discourse further by focusing on aspects rarely addressed together, like psychic, racial, gender and class implications. Her short personal interludes add yet another layer of meaning. Radioactive Ghosts should be required reading for everyone hoping the human species can survive.

E. Ann Kaplan, author of Climate Trauma: Foreseeing the Future in Dystopian Film and Literature

Amid resurgent calls for widespread nuclear energy and “limited nuclear war,” the populations that must live with the consequences of these decisions are increasingly insecure. The nuclear peril combined with the looming threat of climate change means that we are seeing the formation of a new kind of subjectivity: humans who are in a position of perpetual ontological insecurity. In Radioactive Ghosts, Gabriele Schwab articulates a vision of these “nuclear subjectivities” that we all live with.

Focusing on the legacies of the Manhattan Project, Hiroshima, and nuclear energy politics, Radioactive Ghosts takes us on a tour of the little-seen sides of our nuclear world. Examining devastating uranium mining on Native lands, nuclear sacrifice zones, the catastrophic accidents at Chernobyl and Fukushima, and the formation of a new transspecies ethics, Schwab shows how individuals threatened with extinction are creating new adaptations, defenses, and communal spaces. Ranging from personal accounts of experiences with radiation to in-depth readings of literature, film, art, and scholarly works, Schwab gives us a complex, idiosyncratic, and personal analysis of one of the most overlooked issues of our time.
Radioactive Ghosts

Gabriele Schwab is distinguished professor at the University of California, Irvine. She holds appointments in comparative literature, anthropology, English, and European languages and studies. Her books in English include Subjects without Selves: Transitional Texts in Modern Fiction; The Mirror and the Killer-Queen: Otherness in Literary Language; Haunting Legacies: Violent Histories and Transgenerational Trauma; and Imaginary Ethnographies: Literature, Subjectivity, Culture.

Radioactive Ghosts

This book, a wake-up call and a tour de force of wide-ranging interdisciplinary scholarship, is beautifully written and accessible; Gabriele Schwab moves nuclear power discourse further by focusing on aspects rarely addressed together, like psychic, racial, gender and class implications. Her short personal interludes add yet another layer of meaning. Radioactive Ghosts should be required reading for everyone hoping the human species can survive.

E. Ann Kaplan, author of Climate Trauma: Foreseeing the Future in Dystopian Film and Literature

The innocent sounding Manhattan project forever put a Damocles sword on human existence. The first uranium that made the Project possible was dug from Africa. Drawing parallels between the extraction of uranium and the extraction of slave labor, Gabriele Schwab shows the prominent role of colonialism and race in the politics of nuclear production and possession. Radioactive Ghosts, with its clarity of prose and thought, reminds us that we humans have only the one planet. Why, oh, why should any nation be proud that they have the capacity to destroy all planetary life? Exorcise these radioactive ghosts by banning and destroying all these weapons of human destruction. End this MADNESS.

Ngugi wa Thiong'o, author of Wrestling with the Devil

Radioactive Ghosts

Contents

Preface: Of Three-Eyed Fish and Other Ghostings

Introduction: Why Nuclear Necropolitics Today?

Part I. Nuclear Subjectivities

1. No Apocalypse, Not Now: Derrida and the Nuclear Unconscious

2. Nuclear Colonialism

3. Critical Nuclear Race Theory

4. The Gender of Nuclear Subjectivities

Interlude: Children of the Nuclear Age

With Simon J. Ortiz

Part II. Haunting from the Future

5. The Afterlife of Nuclear Catastrophes

6. Hiroshima’s Ghostly Shadows

7. Postnuclear Madness and Nuclear Crypts

8. Transspecies Selves: Intimacies, Extimacies, Animacies

Coda: Postnuclear Ecologies: Language, Body, and Affect in Beckett’s Happy Days

Acknowledgments

Notes

Index