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The Inheritance of Trauma: Radiation Exposed Communities Around the World
- Robert Jacobs (Associate professor at the Hiroshima Peace Institute of Hiroshima City University)
There have been over 2,000 nuclear weapon tests since 1945. Tests have been conducted on every continent except South America and Antarctica. Many nuclear weapons were tested above ground spreading large amounts of radioactive fallout across communities located downwind from the various test sites. Additionally, the production of materials for nuclear weapons has also contaminated large areas near to weapon production facilities. Accidents at nuclear power plants have also contaminated communities and made large areas uninhabitable for the foreseeable future.
Professor Robert Jacobs of the Hiroshima Peace Institute is the lead researcher of the Global Hibakusha Project, which is engaged at assessing the cultural and social effects of radiation exposures to families and communities located near these various sites of contamination. Working with 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation hibakusha, the Global Hibakusha Project documents the destruction to communities and traditional lifestyles that result from exposure to radiation, as well as the inheritance of trauma in hibakusha communities. The project endeavors to link these communities together through Web 2.0 technology, and the sharing of oral histories, artwork, commemoration and political strategies between the disparate hibakusha communities.
Here in Japan where we are still in the early stages of understanding the impacts of the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns on the people and the environment of Tohoku and Japan as a whole, the lessons of previous historical exposures of communities to radiation offers lessons and warnings of the challenges only now unfolding. Jacobs will discuss how the presentation of these challenges as unprecedented and therefore unknowable and unforeseeable is typical of the management of exposed communities.
Associate professor at the Hiroshima Peace Institute of Hiroshima City University
Robert Jacobs is a historian of the social and cultural aspects of nuclear technologies. He is an associate professor at the Hiroshima Peace Institute of Hiroshima City University. He is the author of The Dragon’s Tail: Americans Face the Atomic Age (which has just been released in a Japanese language translation by Gaifusha), and the editor of Filling the Hole in the Nuclear Future: Art and Popular Culture Respond to the Bomb, as well as many other articles on nuclear history.