The Department of History at York University is proud to host the annual Melville-Nelles-Hoffmann Lecture in Environmental History on Monday October 29 at 3pm in the Schulich Private Dining Room, Schulich Executive Learning Centre, York University. This year’s lecture will be delivered by Professor Kate Brown from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Professor Brown is the author of Plutopia: Nuclear Families in Atomic Cities and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters (Oxford 2013), which won seven prizes, including the Dunning and Beveridge prizes from the American Historical Association. Brown’s A Biography of No Place: From Ethnic Borderland to Soviet Heartland (Harvard 2004) was awarded the American Historical Association’s George Louis Beer Prize for the Best Book in International European History. Brown’s most recent book Dispatches from Dystopia: History of Places Not Yet Forgotten was published in 2015. She will publish A Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future with Norton in 2019.
Professor Brown’s lecture will draw upon official records and dozens of interviews to tell the extraordinary stories of Richland, Washington and Ozersk, Russia-the first two cities in the world to produce plutonium. To contain secrets, American and Soviet leaders created plutopias–communities of nuclear families living in highly-subsidized, limited-access atomic cities. Fully employed and medically monitored, the residents of Richland and Ozersk enjoyed all the pleasures of consumer society, while nearby, migrants, prisoners, and soldiers were banned from plutopia–they lived in temporary “staging grounds” and often performed the most dangerous work at the plant. Brown shows that the plants’ segregation of permanent and temporary workers and of nuclear and non-nuclear zones created a bubble of immunity, where dumps and accidents were glossed over and plant managers freely embezzled and polluted. Plutopia was successful because in its zoned-off isolation it appeared to deliver the promises of the American dream and Soviet communism; in reality, it concealed disasters that remain highly unstable and threatening today.
All are welcome and invited.
Monday, October 29, 2018
Schulich Private Dining Room, Schulich Executive Learning Centre
Reception at 3pm
Lecture to begin at 3:30pm
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