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Gabrielle Hecht - Residual Governance: How South Africa Foretells Planetary Futures

Monday 13 June 2022 13:00-14:30,
Hulda Garborgs hus,

Join us for this guest lecture with Gabrielle Hecht (Stanford University).

Publisert: Endret:

Painting of a human image focused on the torso against a fiery background
(c) Chaz Maviyane-Davies, used with permission

Mineral extraction in South Africa has played a central role in the violence and inequities of the Anthropocene. Materially built into urban infrastructures, the toxic residues of mineral extraction and racial capitalism continue to plague South African communities decades after the end of apartheid. As the planet’s environmental crisis continues to worsen, I argue that — contrary to stereotypes of Africa as marginal and “lagging” behind other continents — we must look to South Africa’s time-bombed futures to understand the present and future of working and breathing on our planet. Drawing on two decades of mixed-methods archival and field work, this talk introduces the notion of residual governance: a deadly trifecta that joins governance of residues (waste), governance of minimalism and minimization, and governance that treats people and places as waste. I explore how South Africans (scientists, activists, community leaders, artists, urban planners, and more) refused or remade the conditions of residual governance. What understandings of the Anthropocene and its futures emerge when we take African infrastructures and urban spaces as analytic starting points?

Gabrielle Hecht is the Frank Stanton Foundation Professor of Nuclear Security at CISAC, Senior Fellow at FSI, Professor of History, and Professor (by courtesy) of Anthropology. She is Vice-President/President-Elect of the Society for the History of Technology.

Her current research explores radioactive residues, mine waste, air pollution, and the Anthropocene in Africa. Hecht’s 2012 book Being Nuclear: Africans and the Global Uranium Trade offers new perspectives on the global nuclear order by focusing on African uranium mines and miners. Her first book, The Radiance of France: Nuclear Power and National Identity (1998/ 2nd ed 2009), explores how the French embedded nuclear policy in reactor technology, and nuclear culture in reactor operations.