Coming next month from Minnesota, a new book from one of Allan Pred‘s most creative graduate students (and that’s saying something!). Shiloh Krupar – a contemporary of the equally talented Trevor Paglen – is Assistant Professor of Culture and Politics at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, and her Hot spotter’s report promises to add new dimensions to discussions of the biopolitics of militarism and the enlistment of ‘nature’ in the service of military violence:
Many nuclear and other U.S. military facilities from World War II and the Cold War are now being closed and remediated. Some of these sites have even been transformed into nature refuges and hailed as models of environmental stewardship. Yet, as Shiloh R. Krupar argues, these efforts are too often doing less to solve the environmental and health problems caused by military industrialism than they are acting to obscure the reality of ongoing contamination, occupational illnesses, and general conditions of exposure.
Using an unusual combination of empirical research, creative nonfiction, and fictional satire, Hot Spotter’s Report examines how the biopolitics of war promotes the idea of a postmilitary and postnuclear world, naturalizing toxicity and limiting human relations with the past and the land. The book’s case studies include the conversion of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal into a wildlife refuge, a project that draws on a green “creation story” to sanitize other histories of the site; the cleanup and management of the former plutonium factory Rocky Flats, where the supposed transfiguration of waste into wilderness allows the government to reduce the area it must manage; and a federal law intended to compensate ill nuclear bomb workers that has sometimes done more to benefit former weapons complexes.
Detecting and exposing such “hot spots” of contamination, in part by satirizing government reports, Hot Spotter’s Report seeks to cultivate irreverence, controversy, coalitional possibility, and ethical responses. The result is a darkly humorous but serious and powerful challenge to the biopolitics of war.
I’m sure, too, that it will have much to show us about ways of developing and conveying our arguments outside the conventions of formal academic prose. According to Bruce Braun, ‘Hot Spotter’s Report is at once a devastating indictment of ‘green war’ and a hopeful search for new conditions of existence in and beyond the toxic residues of militarism. Written with wit and passion, Krupar’s irreverent experiments with fable, satire, and creative non-fiction do much more than disrupt the ongoing sanitization of military violence; they open space for new coalitions and political imaginings in domestic landscapes marked by the legacies of imperial war.’
1. Where Eagles Dare: A Biopolitical Fable about the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge
2. Alien Still Life: Managing the End of Rocky Flats
3. Hole in the Head Gang: The Reductio ad absurdum of Nuclear Worker Compensation (EEOICPA)
4. Transnatural Revue: Irreverent Counterspectacles of Mutant Drag and Nuclear Waste Sculpture
Conclusion: Hot Spotting