transposition 792
©2023 Sascha Mikloweit & VG Bild-Kunst, Photo: Manuel Pandalis
transposition 792 (Dr. Chris Hill (UK): Critical Earth: Uranium and the Namib in the Nuclear Imagination)
Dr. Chris Hill
University of Bonn, Institute of Geosciences, Department of Geochemistry/ Petrology, Lecture Hall, Poppelsdorfer Schloss, Bonn, Germany
FLecture Intervention
07/06/2023 | 1630h
As Europeans began to infiltrate the territories of southwestern Africa in the nineteenth century, the discipline of geology also underwent professionalisation and became a powerful instrument of the imperial state. For European explorers, missionaries, and settlers, these territories and their coastal desert, the Namib, came to occupy a special position in the geological imagination. The unusually high exposure of ancient gneisses and granites offered revolutionary insights into the earth's age and creation; phosphate deposits on coastal islands promised to fertilise and replenish soils for white-owned farms and population growth, and the prevalence of diamonds stimulated colonial fantasies of untold riches and wealth. In this talk, Dr. Chris Hill frames the central western region of contemporary Namibia as ‘critical earth' – a contested resource zone that has shaped geopolitics and had implications for nuclear ‘criticality' worldwide. He demonstrates how origin stories of this uranium enshrined visions of a nuclear future, and reflects on what these visions reveal for current theories of imperialism, extraction, and race.

Dr. Chris Hill, Faculty of Creative Industries, University of South Wales

Dr Chris Hill is a modern British historian at the University of South Wales. He has research interests in histories of activism, imperialism, media and nuclear politics. Chris has recently completed an Early Career Leadership Fellowship, funded by the UK's Arts and Humanities Research Council for a project entitled ‘The New Nuclear Imperialism: Science, Power and Diplomacy in the British Empire'. As one of the major outputs of this project, Chris will be publishing a monograph about the political ecology of Namibian uranium: Radiant Empire: Africa's Last Colony and the Making of Nuclear Britain.