Nuclear Reimaginings

The Nuclear Reimaginings project consists of a series of edited collections that “reimagine”—or interpret anew—various historical nuclear events by creating spaces for collaboration and dialogue across disciplinary and cultural boundaries. Doing so brought together otherwise disparate approaches to the emerging subfield of the Nuclear Humanities, from disciplines such as anthropology, philosophy, politics, history, cultural studies, and the visual arts. Although there remains a dire need for further reimaginings, the Nuclear Reimaginings project has been indefinitely placed on hold as at July 2018. To date, highlights included the publication of three edited volumes, including one book and two special issues:

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Volume I:
Re-imagining Hiroshima [2014-15]

Numerous people claim to have contributed something new to our understanding of Hiroshima, as well as its aftermath. In 1965 historian Gar Alperovitz wrote about how the attacks on Japan were, in part, an attack on the Soviet Union, spawning the revisionist interpretation of the attacks. In 1986 journalist and historian Richard Rhodes won a Pulitzer Prize for propounding the traditional American narrative that the real story behind the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki is primarily one about American scientists. In 1995 Robert Jay Lifton and Greg Mitchell brought the image of Hiroshima home to the United States, arguing that Americans have never really confronted what occurred at Hiroshima. These previous efforts are American, reflecting the imbricated relationship of American thinkers with the legacy of the nuclear attacks. However, major volumes dedicated to thinking freely and imaginatively about the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki are rare. Certainly, there have been very few, if any, concerted attempts to interpret Hiroshima anew and from a range of different perspectives as contributors do in this special issue of Critical Military Studies. These re-imaginings not only contribute to our understanding of nuclear culture in particular and military studies in general, but taken together, they pave the way for scholars of tomorrow to explore novel ways of thinking about the nuclear events of August 6 and 9, 1945.

Role: co-editor with Robert Jacobs
Status:
complete [2014-15]
Output/s: 1x special issue and 1x editorial

Now complete, this sub-project resulted in the following outputs:

  1. N.A.J. Taylor and Robert Jacobs (eds.), “Re-imagining Hiroshima”, Critical Military Studies, Vol. 1 Is. 2, August 2015. [Including contributions by: Makeda Best, Thomas Doyle II, Stefanie Fishel, Robert Jacobs, Yuki Miyamoto, elin o’Hara slavik, Kathleen Sullivan, N.A.J. Taylor, Robert del Tredici, and Ran Zwigenberg.] [LINK] 
  2. N.A.J. Taylor and Robert Jacobs, ‘Editorial: Re-imagining Hiroshima’, Critical Military Studies, Vol. 1 Is. 2, August 2015, pp.99-101. [PDF]

Download (PDF, 426KB)

Sponsor/s: Australian Federal Government, The New School and the University of Queensland

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Volume II:
Reimagining Hiroshima and Nagasaki [2014-17]

This edited volume reconsiders the importance of the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki from a post-Cold War perspective. It has been argued that during the Cold War era scholarship was limited by the anxiety that authors felt about the possibility of a global thermonuclear war, and the role their scholarship could play in obstructing such an event. The new scholarship of Nuclear Humanities approaches this history and its fallout with both more nuanced and integrative inquiries, paving the way towards a deeper integration of these seminal events beyond issues of policy and ethics. This volume, therefore, offers a distinctly post-Cold War perspective on the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The chapters collected here address the memorialization and commemoration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by officials and states, but also ordinary people’s resentment, suffering, or forgiveness. The volume presents a variety of approaches with contributions from academics and contributions from authors who are strongly connected to the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and its people. In addition, the work branches out beyond the traditional subjects of social sciences and humanities to include contributions on art, photography, and design. This variety of approaches and perspectives provides moral and political insights on the full range of vulnerabilities–such as emotional, bodily, cognitive, and ecological–that pertains to nuclear harm. This book will be of much interest to students of critical war studies, nuclear weapons, World War II history, Asian History and International Relations in general.

Role: co-editor with Robert Jacobs
Status:
complete [2014-17]
Output/s: 1x book and 1x editorial

Now complete, this sub-project resulted in the following outputs:

  1. N.A.J. Taylor and Robert Jacobs (eds.), Reimagining Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Nuclear Humanities in the post-Cold War, Routledge, U.K.: London, 2017. [Including contributions by: Stuart Bender, Makeda Best, Mick Broderick, Adam Broinowski, Thomas Doyle II, Stefanie Fishel, Robert Jacobs, Yuki Miyamoto, Marcel Quiroz, Jessica Rapson, Erik Ropers, Imafuku Ryuta, Kathleen Sullivan, Shinpei Takeda, N.A.J. Taylor, and Ran Zwigenberg.] [LINK]
  2. N.A.J. Taylor and Robert Jacobs, ‘On Hiroshima becoming history’, in N.A.J. Taylor and Robert Jacobs (eds.), Reimagining Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Nuclear Humanities in the post-Cold War, Routledge, U.K.: London, 2017, pp.1-12. [PDF]

Download (PDF, 763KB)

Sponsor/s: Australian Federal Government, The New School and the University of Queensland

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Volume III:
Reimagining Maralinga [2014-18]

It is little known that among the survivors of the nuclear attacks on Japan were a small number of Australians. It is also barely understood that Australia yielded its land and compromised the future of its people to allow British nuclear colonialism—in the form of nuclear weapons testing at Maralinga, Emu Field, and the Monte Bello Islands. As the Cold War ended, greater sections of Australian society have since been implicated in our nuclear future—which is manifest in the legacies of uranium mining, nuclear testing and nuclear wastes, and signified in new public debates about the nuclear energy option, the role of extended nuclear deterence in Australia’s defence, the expansion of uranium exports, and proposals about the handling of national and foreign radioactive wastes. Since the time of the British nuclear tests, in the 1950s and 60s, Australian artists have responded to Australia’s nuclear politics and history through the mediums of film, song, digital arts, paintings, sculptures, theatre, photography, poetry, literature, and many others. The special issue, Reimagining Maralinga, argues that Australian artists offer unique insights about its peoples and land, underwritten by Australia’s many indigenous cultures. The special issue brings together the contributions of artists—and their artworks—alongside critical reflections on the role of the creative arts in dealing with Australia’s nuclear history, and bringing about alternative nuclear futures and social change.

Role: co-editor with Paul Brown and Ellise Barkley 
Status: complete [2014-18]
Output/s: 1x special issue, 1x article, 1x editorial, 2x submissions and 5x delivered papers

Now complete, this sub-project resulted in the following outputs:

  1. N.A.J. Taylor, Paul Brown, and Ellise Barkley (eds.), “Reimagining Maralinga”. Special issue of Unlikely: Journal for Creative Arts, Is. 4, 2018. [Including contributions by: Ellise Barkley, Jessie Boylan, Mick Broderick, Paul Brown, Teresa Crea, Linda Dement, Merilyn Fairskye, Adrian Glamorgan, Robert Jacobs, Luke Harrald, Steve Harrison, Avon Hudson, Christobel Mattingley, Nic Mollison, Gordon Murray, Warren (Ebay) Paul, Keith Peters, Elizabeth PO, John Romeril, Mima Smart, N.A.J. Taylor, and John Turpie.] [LINK]
  2. N.A.J. Taylor, Paul Brown and Ellise Barkley, ‘Why re-imagine Maralinga?’, Unlikely: Journal for Creative Arts, Is. 4, 2018. [PDF available on request]
  3. N.A.J. Taylor, ‘Situated nuclear knowledges: An ecology of Antipodean nuclear art’, Unlikely: Journal for Creative Arts, Is. 4, 2018. [PDF available on request]
  4. N.A.J. Taylor, ‘Dystopia and utopia in the Australian nuclear imaginary’. Paper to presented at the Dystopic Futures and Utopian Possibilities workshop, Swinburne University and Hawthorn Arts Centre, May 5, 2018. [PDF available on request]
  5. N.A.J. Taylor, ‘An ecology of Antipodean nuclear art’. Departmental seminar at the Cultural Enquiry Research Group (CERG) Seminar Series, Federation University, Ballarat, Australia, July 3, 2017. [PDF available on request]
  6. N.A.J. Taylor, ‘An ecology of Antipodean nuclear art’. Keynote lecture sponsored by the Department of Art History and Film Studies and the Department of Literatures and Languages of the World, University of Montréal, Montréal, Canada, March 11, 2017. [PDF available on request]
  7. N.A.J. Taylor, ‘After Shock—A post-Fukushima Artist’s Talk’. Panel discussion at the Asia-Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts (TOPA), Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall, Melbourne, VIC, Australia, February 12, 2017. [PDF available on request
  8. Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission of South Australia, March 17, 2016. 2pp. [PDF]
  9. Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission of South Australia, July 28, 2015. 2pp. [PDF]
  10. N.A.J. Taylor, ‘Nuclear visions: Suffering between living and dying’. Paper presented at the Creative Arts and Nuclear Futures conference, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia, August 7, 2015. [PDF available on request]

Sponsor/s: Australian Council for the Arts, Australian Federal Government, University of Montréal and the University of Queensland

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Volume IV:
Reimagining Chernobyl [in development]

An experimental publication of narrative nuclear politics, Reimagining Chernobyl, is in the very early stages of development with Redi Koobak at Linköping University and several post-socialist artists. We attempt to write—using words and images—the personal narrative of a man who served as a “liquidator”, or conscripted cleaner, in the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. By focusing exclusively on one man’s experience and legacy of Chernobyl, we take a highly contextual approach, whose archive is not the secondary literature, but family history and vernacular photography. Decontextualised studies of nuclear events often deem their very subject of study “unthinkable”, yet by giving voice to a victim of Chernobyl through familial connection, we situate Soviet nuclear colonialism as future cultural heritage. Reimagining Chernobyl therefore performs a narrative nuclear history that connects a familial past with a universal future.

Role: curator with Redi Koobak and others
Status: in development
Activities: n/a
Sponsor/s: n/a

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The Nuclear Reimaginings project has been indefinitely placed on hold as at June 2018. Current projects include Antipodean Antinuclearism and Nuclear Storytelling