Toxic uncertainties of a nuclear era: Anthropology, history, memoir

by Donna M. Goldstein

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By Donna M. GoldsteinFull Article:

New narratives of toxic contamination are expanding and challenging our ethnographic sensibilities. In confronting the contamination left behind from the Cold War period, a range of disciplinary approaches, methods, and writing styles is necessary. Ethnography plays a crucial role here, but it cannot fly solo in these sorts of projects. In this review essay, I compare three books from authors belonging to distinct scholarly traditions, each one dealing with complicated cases of radioactive contamination that began in the Cold War era and that demand rethinking in the contemporary one. Anthropologists have much to learn from approaches pursued in other disciplines, particularly if the end goal is a more holistic portrait of contamination and toxicity.