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Presented By: Institute for Social Research

Thresholds: Regulating Risk and Water Contamination in Diné Communities

Water Ways: New Social Science, Science Studies, and Environmental Approaches to Water

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Thresholds: Regulating Risk and Water Contamination in Diné Communities
Teresa Montoya, University of Chicago

Monday, Mar. 7, The Open Talks will be held noon to 1pm, and the Grad Workshops will be held 1 to 3pm. All parts via Zoom.

Abstract:
On July 16, 1979, one of the uranium mill tailings disposal ponds at the United Nuclear Corporation facility near Church Rock, NM failed. The ruptured mill earth dam released approximately 1100 tons of radioactive solid mill waste and 95 million gallons of acidic mine water into the streams and watersheds of nearby Diné (Navajo) communities. This disaster remains the largest singular release of radioactive material in U.S. history. In the spill’s aftermath—decades later and several miles downstream—I have worked alongside Diné grassroots coalitions on the Navajo Nation in their efforts to confront various forms of water contamination from this toxic disaster. Drawing upon ethnographic and archival material, I explore the various regulatory frameworks through which radioactive exposure is legible and by extension, the legal and political avenues that are made possible or denied. Through these activities, I analyze discourses of risk management, regulatory jurisdiction, and chronic exposure by several state agencies and public officials in their response to community concerns of unsafe water. In doing so, I theorize the arbitrary thresholds of toxicity within larger racialized debates over tribal sovereignty, public health disparity, and environmental justice for Diné communities today.

This is a part of the Research Center for Group Dynamics (RCGD) Winter 2022 Series - "Water Ways: New Social Science, Science Studies, and Environmental Approaches to Water"

This is also a part of the class Anthrcul 558 section 002

Livestream Information

 Zoom
March 7, 2022 (Monday) 12:00pm
Meeting ID: 95385019774
Meeting Password: 520095

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