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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.
About the Author
Gabrielle Hecht is Professor of History at the University of Michigan. She is the author of The Radiance of France: Nuclear Power and National Identity after World War II (MIT Press).
Co-winner, 2012 Martin A. Klein Prize in African History, awarded by the American Historical Society.
Winner, 2013 Robert K. Merton Book Award, given by the Science, Knowledge, and Technology Section of the American Sociological Association.
Winner, 2013 Susanne M. Glasscock Humanities Book Prize for Interdisciplinary Scholarship
Finalist, 2013 Melville Herkovits Award, African Studies Association