Day 2: Exploring alternative pathways

Sunday, September 25, 2016
Maxey Building W42, Whitman College, Walla Walla, WA

In Day 2 we explore alternative pathways towards a world empty of nuclear weapons. The three pathways chosen to focus our explorations variously deploy strategies drawn from dialogue, divestment, and the creative arts—although there are others that you are free to explore also (e.g. gender, and queer studiesthe uranium political economy, music, etc.). At the beginning of each session smaller groups of participants are provided with “packets” of information that detail particular aspects of a dilemma. 1 hour and 45 minutes is then provided for each smaller group to “respond” to it. As in any jig-saw exercise, as each smaller group reports their findings back to the wider group, the broader puzzle is complete.

Which alternative pathway(s) to nuclear-free worlds, if any, do you want to explore?

Pathway 1: Inter-communal Dialogue  

You have visited the far-future. The world of the future is empty of nuclear weapons, and from what you saw and heard people are living in relative peace and harmony, not only with each other but also the non-human world. You form the view that this is because the doctrine of nuclear deterrence no longer holds. When you return to the present day you feel strongly about achieving a world empty of nuclear weapons. The question is: how do you enlighten others to your new way of thinking?

Preliminary resources for the Dialogical Pathway

Shampa Biswas, ‘Decolonizing the Nuclear World: Can the Subaltern Speak?’, Nuclear Desire: Power and the Postcolonial Nuclear Order, University of Minnesota Press, 2014, 171-99.

David Krieger and Richard Falk, ‘Introduction’, The Path to Zero: Dialogues on Nuclear Dangers, Paradigm Publishers, 2012, xv-xvi.

N.A.J. Taylor, Joseph A. Camilleri, and Michael Hamel-Green, ‘Dialogue on Middle East Biological, Nuclear, and Chemical Weapons Disarmament Constraints and Opportunities’, Alternatives: Global, Local, Political, Vol.38 Is.1, 2013, 78–98.


Pathway 2: Divestment and Engagement 

You have setup a meeting with your bank manager. But when you arrive for the meeting you find the manager standing in the street talking to a good number of people who are picketing the front door. You discover for the first time that your bank is financing nuclear weapons producers, both in the United States and overseas. The question is: what do you do next?

Preliminary resources for the Divestment and Engagement Pathway

Responsible Investment Made Easy’, Future of Life Institute, 2016.

International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), Don’t Bank on the Bomb: A Global Report on the Financing of Nuclear Weapons Producers, November 2015, pp.3-12.

N.A.J. Taylor, ‘A rather delicious paradox: Social responsibility and the manufacture of armaments’, in Ralph Tench, William Sun and Brian Jones (eds.) Corporate Social Irresponsibility: A Challenging Concept, Emerald, U.K.: West Hampshire, November 2012, pp.43-62.


Pathway 3: The Creative Arts 

The incoming President announces that s/he has agreed to unilaterally disarm America’s nuclear arsenal. You have been appointed by the federal government to communicate the presence of the resultant (and existing) high-level radioactive nuclear waste into the far-future. You have been made aware that this will involve curating both scientific and aesthetic materials, and that these future beings may not speak the languages or recognise the symbols that are widely-used today (i.e. for radioactivity). The question is: what materials make it onto your final list?

Preliminary resources for the Creative Arts Pathway

WIPP Exhibit to 12,000 A.D.’, U.S. Department of Energy, 1984.

How will future generations be warned?’, U.S. Department of Energy, Carlsbad Field Office, Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, January 2003.

Andrew Moisey, ‘Considering the Desire to Mark Our Buried Nuclear Waste: Into Eternity and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant’, Qui Parle: Critical Humanities and Social Sciences, Vol.20 Is.2, 2012, 101-25.


Co-produced materials arising from the workshop

A copy of the slides used by the instructor for the initial “provocation”, and the students’ “response” is attached as a PDF.