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Managing Nuclear Memory: The Journey from Hiroshima to Fukushima
- Norma Field (Professor Emerita, University of Chicago)
- Robert (Bo) Jacobs (Professor at the Hiroshima Peace Institute and the Graduate School of Peace Studies of Hiroshima City University)
- Yuki Miyamoto (Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Global Asian Studies, DePaul University)
The anniversaries of the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki serve as somber dedications to those who lost their lives in these tragic events. Such rituals of remembrance are inevitably selective about the aspects called up for reflection and can even encourage forgetting, by declaring the past as overcome and therefore, truly past. This webinar will explore the ways in which the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki mark not a tragic past now diminished by time, but the inception of an ongoing struggle to discern the meaning and continued significance of nuclear technologies in the world we inhabit today, as it defines state power and continues to threaten mass destruction on a scale that far exceeds that visited upon Japanese cities in WW II.
Our commemoration of the 75th anniversaries of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki is marked by the disruption and uncertainty that COVID-19 has brought into all of our lives. While attempts to sanitize perceptions of the radiological disaster in Fukushima through Olympic spectacle were subverted by the pandemic, this management of perceptions around nuclear issues has, since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, been a primary feature of how we imagine the world riven by pending nuclear conflict and the long-term effects of the byproducts of nuclear energy. From the rhetoric of “Atoms for Peace,” which attempted to demarcate an imaginary line between nuclear power and nuclear weapons, to the dismissal of harm to those exposed to radiation from nuclear testing, production and accidents, the nuclear gambit has always been veiled behind a rhetoric that justifies, at any cost, its continued existence.
In this 75th year since the atomic bomb forever altered the destiny of Japan and set the world on a nuclear path – the 1st time that public commemorations will not be staged due to the viral pandemic – this webinar will take a hard look at how we experience and remember nuclear disasters, and what we can learn from this history to better understand where we came from and where we are going, and how we can best care for one another along the journey.
Webinar access link:
Meeting ID: 816 638 5428
August 7 10:00am Chicago (CT) | August 8 12:00am Tokyo (JST)
Note: RSVP not required
Professor Emerita, University of Chicago
Norma Field, professor emerita of the University of Chicago, began her career at the Department of East Asian Languages & Civilizations as a scholar of classical Japanese literature (The Splendor of Longing in the Tale of Genji, 1987). In the Realm of a Dying Emperor: Japan at Century’s End, 1991) is her first political-cultural publication. Subsequent work on modern Japanese leftist literature in Japanese and English (For Dignity, Justice, and Revolution: An Anthology of Japanese Proletarian Literature, 2016) has shaped her current project, on the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
She is editor and co-translater of Fukushima Radiation: Will You Still Say No Crime Has Been Committed? Her most recent articles/translations are The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster and the Tokyo Olympics (Koide Hiroaki) and This Will Still Be True Tomorrow: “Fukushima Ain’t Got the Time for Olympic Games (Muto Ruiko). With Yuki Miyamoto, she maintains the Atomic Age website.
Robert (Bo) Jacobs
Professor at the Hiroshima Peace Institute and the Graduate School of Peace Studies of Hiroshima City University
Robert (Bo) Jacobs is a Professor at the Hiroshima Peace Institute and the Graduate School of Peace Studies of Hiroshima City University. He is a historian of nuclear technologies and radiation technopolitics. Jacobs is the author of The Dragon’s Tail: Americans Face the Atomic Age (2010), (also available in a Japanese translation published by Gaifusha in 2013), and the editor of Filling the Hole in the Nuclear Future: Art and Popular Culture Respond to the Bomb (2010). He is the co-editor of Images of Rupture in Civilization Between East and West: The Iconography of Auschwitz and Hiroshima in Eastern European Arts and Media (2016), and Reimagining Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Nuclear Humanities in the Post-Cold War (2017). He co-edited a special issue of the journal Critical Military Studies “Re-Imagining Hiroshima” (summer 2015), and co-edited a special issue of the Asian Journal of Peacebuilding on peace education. His curated exhibition of Cold War material culture artifacts Nuke York, New York (2011-12) has been installed at museums and galleries in the United States. Jacobs has published and lectured widely on nuclear issues around the world. His most recent journal article is “Born Violent: The Origins of Nuclear Power,” (2019) and his monograph, Nuclear Bodies: The Cold War as a Limited Nuclear War, is under contract with Yale University Press and will be released in 2021.
Beginning in 2010 Jacobs co-founded the Global Hibakusha Project with Mick Broderick. The project conducts field research at radiation affected sites and in radiation affected communities around the world. Research has been conducted at most nuclear test sites, and many sites of nuclear production and nuclear accidents. Oral histories have been gathered among indigenous communities, downwinders, atomic soldiers, nuclear workers, technical and scientific cohorts. The Global Hibakusha Project has held two workshops training college aged youth from hibakusha communities in technics of gathering oral histories so that such historical records could be gathered in indigenous languages within communities and reach participants that would be invisible to outside researchers. The first workshop involved participants from Kazakhstan, the Marshall Islands and Hiroshima, and was held on Majuro Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands during the 60th anniversary of the Bravo Test in 2014. The second included participants from the Yalata community of South Australia, Hiroshima and Nagasaki and was held in Hiroshima in 2015.
He received his bachelor’s degree at the University of Minnesota and both his master’s and doctorate at the University of Illinois. In a previous life Jacobs worked as a chef, and in the organic produce industry in his native United States. He is the father of four and the grandfather of two.
Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Global Asian Studies, DePaul University
Yuki Miyamoto (PhD in Ethics, from the Divinity School at the University of Chicago) teaches courses on nuclear ethics and environmental ethics at DePaul University. Her works include the monogram Beyond the Mushroom Cloud: Commemoration, Religion, and Responsibility after Hiroshima (Fordham University Press, 2011), and articles (“In the Light of Hiroshima: Banalizing Violence and Normalizing Experiences of the Atomic Bombing,” and “Gendered Bodies in Tokusatsu: Reproduction and Representation of the Atomic Bomb Victims”). Her most recent publication examines the nuclear discourse in the US, Naze genbaku ga aku de nainoka (Iwanami shoten, 2020). With Dr. Norma Field (Professor Emerita of the University of Chicago), she has managed a website The Atomic Age and has organized five Atomic Age symposia. She has led seven study-abroad programs, bringing DePaul students to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.