Call for Papers: Radiation in Canada

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Extracted in ores, milled into fuels, loaded into reactors, and refined into the stuff of both unthinkable weapons and miracle cures, radioisotopes take part in stories that run the breadth of Canada’s vast geography and complex identity. Unstable, radioactive stories transgress boundaries between nature and technology and between the memories and experiences of settler-colonists and Indigenous peoples. 70 years after the nation’s first meltdown at Chalk River Laboratories, the histories and half-lives of radioisotopes continue to shape the reality of communities caught up in atomic ventures in 2022.

NiCHE and the New Scholars Committee invites expressions of interest from potential contributors to a blog series aimed at understanding the sundry environmental histories that make up Canada’s radioactive past and present. Adopting a patchwork approach that focuses on local stories, this blog series hopes to piece together perspectives in the intersections between radioactivity, nature, and diverse peoples across Canada. Some questions come to mind at these intersections:

  • Who speaks for atomic landscapes?
  • How have nuclear production and nuclear technologies impacted local environments?
  • Are there Canada nuclear aesthetics and how might they relate to national stories about nature?
  • How do narratives about radioactivity and the environment relate to settler-colonial imaginaries? To Indigenous experiences?
  • How has the work of Atomic Energy Canada, Limited, remade environments and communities?
  • How are stories about atomic accidents environmental stories?

Blog posts will be brief, between 1000 and 1500 words, and can feature images and a variety of multimedia sources. Writers may wish to look at NiCHE blog posts to get a sense of the network’s style, for instance this 2021 post on Acid Mine Drainage in BC by Catherine Marie Gilbert. If you are interested in contributing to the blog series, please refer to the NiCHE guidelines for contributors and contact Joshua McGuffie (jmcguffi @ by 4 March 2022.

Feature image:  A view of the atomic installation at Chalk River Laboratories looking eastward across the Ottawa River into Quebec, 1958. Source: Toronto Star Photograph Archive, public domain, from “Going Nuclear in Canada” Toronto Public Library, 12 August 2019.
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