Gabrielle Hecht

Gabrielle Hecht is Frank Stanton Foundation Professor of Nuclear Security and Professor of History at Stanford University. She is the author of The Radiance of France: Nuclear Power and National Identity after World War II (MIT Press).

  • Being Nuclear

    Being Nuclear

    Africans and the Global Uranium Trade

    Gabrielle Hecht

    The hidden history of African uranium and what it means—for a state, an object, an industry, a workplace—to be “nuclear.”

    Uranium from Africa has long been a major source of fuel for nuclear power and atomic weapons, including the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. In 2003, after the infamous “yellow cake from Niger,” Africa suddenly became notorious as a source of uranium, a component of nuclear weapons. But did that admit Niger, or any of Africa's other uranium-producing countries, to the select society of nuclear states? Does uranium itself count as a nuclear thing? In this book, Gabrielle Hecht lucidly probes the question of what it means for something—a state, an object, an industry, a workplace—to be “nuclear.”

    Hecht shows that questions about being nuclear—a state that she calls “nuclearity”—lie at the heart of today's global nuclear order and the relationships between “developing nations” (often former colonies) and “nuclear powers” (often former colonizers). Hecht enters African nuclear worlds, focusing on miners and the occupational hazard of radiation exposure. Could a mine be a nuclear workplace if (as in some South African mines) its radiation levels went undetected and unmeasured? With this book, Hecht is the first to put Africa in the nuclear world, and the nuclear world in Africa. By doing so, she remakes our understanding of the nuclear age.

    • Hardcover $29.95
    • Paperback $22.95
  • Entangled Geographies

    Entangled Geographies

    Empire and Technopolitics in the Global Cold War

    Gabrielle Hecht

    Investigations into how technologies became peculiar forms of politics in an expanded geography of the Cold War.

    The Cold War was not simply a duel of superpowers. It took place not just in Washington and Moscow but also in the social and political arenas of geographically far-flung countries emerging from colonial rule. Moreover, Cold War tensions were manifest not only in global political disputes but also in struggles over technology. Technological systems and expertise offered a powerful way to shape countries politically, economically, socially, and culturally. Entangled Geographies explores how Cold War politics, imperialism, and postcolonial nation building became entangled in technologies and considers the legacies of those entanglements for today's globalized world.

    The essays address such topics as the islands and atolls taken over for military and technological purposes by the supposedly non-imperial United States, apartheid-era South Africa's efforts to achieve international legitimacy as a nuclear nation, international technical assistance and Cold War politics, the Saudi irrigation system that spurred a Shi'i rebellion, and the momentary technopolitics of emergency as practiced by Medecins sans Frontières.

    The contributors to Entangled Geographies offer insights from the anthropology and history of development, from diplomatic history, and from science and technology studies. The book represents a unique synthesis of these three disciplines, providing new perspectives on the global Cold War.

  • Technologies of Power

    Technologies of Power

    Essays in Honor of Thomas Parke Hughes and Agatha Chipley Hughes

    Michael Thad Allen and Gabrielle Hecht

    This collection explores how technologies become forms of power, how people embed their authority in technological systems, and how the machines and the knowledge that make up technical systems strengthen or reshape social, political, and cultural power. The authors suggest ways in which a more nuanced investigation of technology's complex history can enrich our understanding of the changing meanings of modernity. They consider the relationship among the state, expertise, and authority; the construction of national identity; changes in the structure and distribution of labor; political ideology and industrial development; and political practices during the Cold War. The essays show how insight into the technological aspects of such broad processes can help synthesize material and cultural methods of inquiry and how reframing technology's past in broader historical terms can suggest new directions for science and technology studies.The essays were written in honor of Thomas Parke Hughes and Agatha Chipley Hughes, whose spirit of inquiry they seek to continue.

    Contributors Janet Abbate, Michael Thad Allen, W. Bernard Carlson, Gabrielle Hecht, Erik P. Rau, Eric Schatzberg, Amy Slaton, John Staudenmaier, Edmund N. Todd, Hans Weinberger

  • The Radiance of France

    The Radiance of France

    Nuclear Power and National Identity after World War II

    Gabrielle Hecht

    The Radiance of France asks how it happened that technological prowess and national glory (or "radiance," which also means "radiation" in French) became synonymous in France as nowhere else.

    In the aftermath of World War II, as France sought a distinctive role for itself in the modern, postcolonial world, the nation and its leaders enthusiastically embraced large technological projects in general and nuclear power in particular. The Radiance of France asks how it happened that technological prowess and national glory (or "radiance," which also means "radiation" in French) became synonymous in France as nowhere else.To answer this question, Gabrielle Hecht has forged an innovative combination of technology studies and cultural and political history. Focusing on the early history of French nuclear power, Hecht explores the design and development of the reactors, the culture and organization of work at reactor sites, and the ways in which local communities responded to nuclear power and state-directed technological development. She also describes the eventual abandonment of the French (gas-graphite) system in favor of the American (light-water) system and shows how the American system was then "made French." A central argument of her book is that engineers and workers shaped artifacts and practices in a deliberate effort to implement specific political and cultural programs. Combining research in a wealth of previously untapped archival sources with extensive oral interviews, Hecht effectively demonstrates the relationship between history and memory in technological France.

    • Hardcover $49.95
    • Paperback $35.00

Contributor

  • Systems, Experts, and Computers

    Systems, Experts, and Computers

    The Systems Approach in Management and Engineering, World War II and After

    Agatha C. Hughes and Thomas Parke Hughes

    This groundbreaking book charts the origins and spread of the systems movement.

    After World War II, a systems approach to solving complex problems and managing complex systems came into vogue among engineers, scientists, and managers, fostered in part by the diffusion of digital computing power. Enthusiasm for the approach peaked during the Johnson administration, when it was applied to everything from military command and control systems to poverty in American cities. Although its failure in the social sphere, coupled with increasing skepticism about the role of technology and "experts" in American society, led to a retrenchment, systems methods are still part of modern managerial practice.

    This groundbreaking book charts the origins and spread of the systems movement. It describes the major players including RAND, MITRE, Ramo-Wooldrige (later TRW), and the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis—and examines applications in a wide variety of military, government, civil, and engineering settings. The book is international in scope, describing the spread of systems thinking in France and Sweden. The story it tells helps to explain engineering thought and managerial practice during the last sixty years.

    • Hardcover $14.75
    • Paperback $35.00