CANCELLED - CEERES of Voices: Kate Brown - "Manual for Survival" - Joe Masco

Tuesday, April 7, 2020 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Kate Brown

*This event has been cancelled. We hope to reschedule in the coming months.**

“A magisterial blend of historical research, investigative journalism and poetic awe-inspiring journey.” — Economist

“Kate Brown introduces new archival material to document the public-health crisis ― creating a handbook for a 'postnuclear reality'...Brown’s page-turner skillfully weaves an original narrative on the long-term medical effects of the Chernobyl disaster.” — Nature

CEERES of Voices presents Kate Brown on Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future. She will be joined in conversation by Joe Masco.

Presented in partnership with CEERES, the Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies at the University of Chicago.

At 57th Street Books

RSVP HERE (Please note that your RSVP is requested, not required)

About the book: The official death toll of the 1986 Chernobyl accident, ‘the worst nuclear disaster in history’, is a reassuringly small number (44), and stories today commonly suggest that nature in the Exclusion Zone is thriving. Yet award-winning historian Kate Brown uncovers a much more disturbing story, one in which radioactive isotopes caused hundreds of thousands of casualties, and the magnitude of this human and ecological catastrophe has been actively suppressed.   

Based on a decade of archival and on-the-ground research, Manual for Survival is a gripping exposé of the consequences of nuclear radiation in the wake of Chernobyl – and the plot to cover up the truth. As Brown discovers, Soviet scientists, bureaucrats, and civilians documented stunning increases in cases of birth defects, child mortality, cancers and a multitude of more prosaic but still life-altering diseases. Worried that this evidence would blow the lid on the effects of massive radiation release from weapons-testing during the Cold War, scientists and diplomats from international organizations, including the UN, tried to bury or discredit it. Yet Brown also encounters many everyday heroes, often women, who fought to bring attention to the ballooning health disaster, and adapt to life in a post-nuclear landscape, where dangerously radioactive agricultural produce and distorted trees still persist today. 

An astonishing historical detective story, Manual for Survival makes clear the irreversible impact on every living thing, not just from Chernobyl, but from eight decades of radiation from nuclear energy and weaponry around the world.

About the author: Kate Brown is Professor of History in the Science, Technology and Society Department of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is the author of the prize-winning histories Plutopia: Nuclear Families in Atomic Cities and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters (Oxford 2013) and A Biography of No Place: From Ethnic Borderland to Soviet Heartland (Harvard 2004). Brown was a 2009 Guggenheim Fellow. Her work has also been supported by the Carnegie Foundation, the NEH, ACLS, IREX, and the American Academy of Berlin, among others. Her latest book, Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future was published March 2019 by Norton (US), Penguin Lane (UK), Czarne (Poland). In 2020, it will be translated into Ukrainian, Russian, Czech, Slovak, Lithuanian, French, Spanish, and Korean.

About the interlocutor: Joseph Masco (PhD, UC San Diego 1999) is Professor of Anthropology and of the Social Sciences in the College.  Working at the intersection of science studies, environmental studies, media studies, and critical theory, his scholarship examines the material, affective, and conceptual force of technological revolution. He is the author of The Nuclear Borderlands: The Manhattan Project in Post-Cold War New Mexico (Princeton University Press, 2006) a multi-sited ethnographic investigation into the long-term effects of the atomic bomb project in New Mexico, and The Theater of Operations: National Security Affect from the Cold War to the War on Terror (2014, Duke University Press).

About the series: CEERES, pronounced /ˈsirēz/, is the acronym for the University of Chicago Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies. Together with the Seminary Co-op Bookstore, we are delighted to announce the launch of the CEERES of Voices Event Series, an author-centered series of readings and conversations on books from or about Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, Central Eurasia, and the Caucasus. The books being discussed are identified in a various ways: through publishers’ contacts with the bookstore or through faculty requests to CEERES to host the author.

Event Location: 
57th Street Books
1301 E 57th St.
Chicago, IL 60637