The online journal Aeon has published an excerpt from associate professor of history Kate Brown’s forthcoming book Plutopia, which is due out in 2013.
“For the past seven years, I have spent a great deal of time in the radiated traces of the world’s first plutonium plants — the Hanford factory in eastern Washington State and the Mayak plant in the southern Russian Urals. As countries from the Middle East to the Baltics gear up for a new generation of nuclear power reactors, it is worth taking another look at how scientists laid claim to the ‘truth’ to dismiss the testimony of local farmers such as Tom Bailie, and how farmers fought back to cast doubt on the experts,” writes Brown.
Plutopia is about two communities—Richland, Washington and its Soviet parallel, Cheliabinsk-40—created to house operators of the world’s first two plutonium plants. It is the first to narrate in tandem the plutonium disasters in the US and USSR, and Brown argues that it no longer makes sense to tell the two histories separately. She shows that plutonium was a collaborative, transnational project that bound together the lives of working people across the cold war divide.
The excerpt, “A People’s Truth,” appeared online on December 3 and can be read here.