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Transnatural Ethics: Rocky Flats and the Queer Ecology of NuClia Waste


Date: 10/07/2010

Time: 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM

Location: 125 Nolte Center for Continuing Education

Cost: Free and open to the public


Transnatural Ethics: Rocky Flats and the Queer Ecology of NuClia Waste - Presentation by Shiloh Krupar

For over forty years, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Rocky Flats facility near Denver, CO produced the plutonium trigger device of nearly every nuclear weapon in the U.S.'s arsenal and in the process amassed an incomprehensible amount of waste. Wiped clean of all former buildings and signs of human labor and industrial production, the site is slated to open to the public as a national wildlife refuge. Its conversion from wasteland to refuge serves as a DOE model of environmental remediation applicable to other decommissioned nuclear facilities across the vast U.S. nuclear landscape. This talk explores the cleanup and conversion of the former plutonium production facility into a wildlife refuge, including some of the effects of this process on workers. In so doing, it asks: How can we think about the ethical dimensions of the post-nuclear nature refuge? What kind of ethical responses do radioactive natures demand? What forms of subjectivity, ethical practices, and aesthetics might emerge?

Using a framework based in Michel Foucault’s work on ethics, the presentation offers an alternative response to radioactive natures—"transnatural ethics and aesthetics"—that recognizes and politicizes the permutations of waste and nature, humans and waste. The talk then turns to the performative persona of radioactive drag queen comedienne NuClia Waste, who provides one striking example of transnatural practice with potentially profound implications for Rocky Flats. NuClia Waste reconstructs subjectivity in waste and cultivates a specifically "queer ecology" that displays relations of power, critiques normative dimensions, questions boundaries, and plays with new ways of being in the world.

Shiloh Krupar is on the geography faculty of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.  Her research and teaching interests, which lie at the intersection of Geography, Architecture, and Performance Studies, have focused on the emergent museums and curatorial practices of postsocialist urban China, and the politics of nature conservation and environmental memory at decommissioned military sites and nuclear facilities in the U.S. West. Krupar also works collaboratively on a project entitled Museum of Waste, which explores the intersection of ecologies of waste, security, and affect, and a co-edited journal issue on "The Body in Breast Cancer." Krupar travels extensively to give lectures and performances, most recently at the Royal Geographical Society in London, the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study’s workshop “Space, Power, Nation,” and the Montreal-based Artivistic Conference “Un.Occupied Spaces.”

Prof. Krupar is a fellow with the Environment, Culture, and Sustainability and Health and Society groups of Quadrant in the fall of 2010.


  • Name: Institute for Advanced Study
  • E-mail: ias@umn.edu
  • Phone: 612-626-5054
  • Sponsored by: Institute for Advanced Study


Reservation Information:  

More information: http://www.ias.umn.edu/quadrantcal.php

Disability Options:

To request disability accommodations, please contact the IAS.

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