‘Decolonising the Nuclear’ – Professor Lise Autogena presents at Goldsmiths University public lecture and workshop on 22-23 October 2019

Professor Lise Autogena will be presenting at Decolonising the Nuclear, a public lecture and workshop taking place at Goldsmiths University of London next month. The event, following on from the Nuclear Culture Research Symposium which took place in autumn 2018 is organised by the Nuclear Culture Research Group and supported by supported by the CHASE Doctoral Training Partnership, Critical Ecologies Research Stream, and Mountain of Art Research (MARs) in partnership with Arts Catalyst, Art Action UK, MFA Curating and Goldsmiths University of London.

The workshop runs from  Tuesday 22 October to Wednesday 23 October 2019. For details and tickets please see the Eventbrite here.

The development of nuclear technology has always relied on colonial practices of resource extraction, atomic testing on indigenous lands, exporting nuclear installations, deployment of nuclear weapons and radioactive waste storage. Many communities are already living through the slow violence of atomic tests, radioactive accidents and contaminated landscapes. Nuclear technology is at the heart of the military industrial complex, often outside democratic decision-making processes, yet it is often neglected in contemporary discourses around decoloniality, climate crisis and the Anthropocene.

Image by Lise Autogena, of a trailer in the foreground of mountains.

This year the Nuclear Culture Research Group is considering what it means to decolonise our creative and academic research practices within nuclear culture. In an academic context this starts with tracing our own stories, expanding our networks and literature, working with and alongside communities, and leads to rethinking forms of knowledge and creative practices from completely new, or perhaps very old, perspectives. However, nuclear decoloniality starts with an attempt to re-couple the nuclear with colonial histories that have been neglected in order to isolate research into discreet work-packages for spurious reasons of security or in-depth scientific research. The workshop invites scholars of nuclear culture and artist-researchers to share knowledge, ideas and practices, to widen the scope, to extend and examine our nuclear languages and create a space for people working closely with different kinds of nuclear decoloniality from around the world. This event is a small first step on a long journey to find ways to work together.

Workshop participants include:

Lise Autogena is working with Joshua Portway investigating the conflicts facing the small, mostly indigenous, community of Narsaq in southern Greenland. Narsaq is located next to the pristine Kvanefjeld mountain; site of one of the richest rare earth mineral resources deposits in the world, and one of the largest sources of uranium.

Alex Ressel and Kerri Meehan are artists from the UK and Australia currently living and working at Injalak Arts Centre in Gunbalanya, near to the Nabarlek former uranium mine and Ranger Uranium mine in the Northern Territory of Australia.

Fathima Nizaruddin will present her film Nuclear Hallucinations (2016) which claims to be a documentary and explores the anti-nuclear struggle against the Kudankulam Atomic Power Project in South India.

Ignacio Acosta is a Chilean-born, London-based artist and researcher working primarily with photography to explore geopolitical power dynamics around minerals, their geographies and historical narratives.

Professor Gabrielle Hecht (Stanford University) will give a keynote public lecture on her current research into nuclearity and the Anthropocene on the Goldsmiths main campus on Tuesday 22 October, 6PM-8PM.

The workshop roundtable will consider such questions as:


• Nuclearity – what determines the category of the ‘nuclear’. Who takes response-ability?

• Nuclear ethics: whose voices are represented in nuclear studies, histories, arts, sciences and humanities?

• What are the asymmetries of the nuclear Anthropocene within our own research?

• How do we connect the material traces of uranium, radioactive isotopes and waste across civil and military?

• Whose energy, whose contamination: how are we embedded in global nuclear networks?

• How do we engage with non-alignment and different perspectives on nuclear weapons policies?

• How does interdisciplinary research between art/anthropology/sociology/environmental studies change how we understand the nuclear?

• What are the nuclear humanities approaches to field research?

• What are our strategies and tactics for intergenerational cultural communication over deep time?

• What can we learn from wider indigenous land rights, especially around mining / toxicity?

• What kinds of nuclearity or critique is Science & Technology Studies enabling?

• What are the impacts of the Cold war on the present?

• Can we consider Soviet and American nuclear empires as a form of colonialism?

Professor Lise Autogena is an artist and a Professor of Cross-Disciplinary Art at the Cultural Communication and Computing Research Institute at Sheffield Hallam University. Find out more about her work here.