Uranium disposal cell on Navajo Nation land (photo by Will Wilson).

Disarming Toxic Empire

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The world is at “90 seconds to midnight,” the closest it has ever been, according to the Doomsday Clock of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. However alarming this prognosis is, nuclear disaster has long been in the making, demonstrated by decades of Indigenous, Third World, and feminist anti-nuclear advocacy. For decades, these advocates have recognized that nuclear and environmental threats and harms are intrinsically connected through legal, political, and economic structures of imperialism.

“Disarming Toxic Empire” brought fresh, transnational, and interdisciplinary approaches to peace, nuclear disarmament, and environmental justice. Participants considered and contested the unjust, imperial histories and geographies of nuclear testing, production, storage, and weaponry. The conference brought together academics, advocates, and artists working through intergenerational channels of memory and justice to respond to nuclear toxicity in all its forms and manifestations, in sites ranging from the Navajo Nation and the Pacific Islands to Japan, North Africa, and Ghana.

The conference opened with a keynote address by 2017 Nobel Peace Prize winner Beatrice Fihn, former executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). It concluded with a performance of A Body in Fukushima by the movement–based interdisciplinary artist Eiko Otake.

Hosted by the Sissy Farenthold Fund for Peace and Social Justice of the Rapoport Center, the conference was a collaborative effort among many institutions at the University of Texas and beyond. Fihn’s keynote event is sponsored by the Swedish Excellence Endowment, the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation Excellence Endowment, and Texas Global.



Co-sponsored by the Sissy Farenthold Fund for Peace and Social Justice; Swedish Excellence Endowment and The Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation Excellence Endowment; Texas Global; Center for European Studies and France-UT Institute; Humanities Institute, funding support provided by Viola S. Hoffman and George W. Hoffman Lectureship in Liberal Arts and Fine Arts; the Charles N. Wilson Chair in South Asian Studies and the Department of Government; Planet Texas 2050; Center for East Asian Studies; South Asia Institute; the Oscar Brockett Center for Theatre History and Performance as Public Practice in the Department of Theatre and Dance; Briscoe Center for American History; the Program in Native American and Indigenous Studies; and Rude Mechs.

Event series: Sissy Farenthold Fund for Peace and Social Justice, Annual Conference