Film, Science, Politics

Thursday Lecture Series, Evidence

February 9, 2011 Wednesday, 12:15pm EST The Heyman Center, Columbia University

Peter Galison’s lecture addressed speculation as it pertains to inaccessible sites, focusing on “nuclear wastelands” and “pure wilderness.” As they are usually understood, these designations are polar opposites, and yet the two categories paradoxically converge on the sites of “decommissioned nuclear weapons lands” that have been classified by the U.S. government as a special kind of “natural preserve.” Taking stock of plans to handle lands that will remain saturated with radioactive waste and weapons for tens of thousands of years, Professor Galison argued that removing parts of the earth in perpetuity alters a central feature of the human self and raises irreducible questions about who we are when land can be classified, forever, as not for us humans.