Magdalena Edyta Stawkowski

Grant Type

Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship

Institutional Affiliation

South Carolina, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10187

Approve Date

October 7, 2021

Project Title

Stawkowski , Magdalena (South Carolina, U. of) "Mutant Encounters: Radioactive Life on the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site in Kazakhstan"

MAGDALENA E. STAWKOWSKI, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, was awarded a Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship in October 2021 to aid research and writing on “Mutant Encounters: Radioactive Life on the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site in Kazakhstan.” The book manuscript is a historical, theoretical, and ethnographic study of the socio-cultural consequences of the Soviet atomic bomb project in Kazakhstan told from those most affected yet least understood. The work is a close-up of life in a nuclear zone — what the indigenous Kazakh residents refer to as both the “good life” and a challenging one. What compels people stay in a region where nuclear testing occurred and by what means do they do it? The book offers an intimate look at the links between Cold War nuclear weapons testing and the political, economic, and social worlds that have emerged in the post-Soviet era. It shows the exceptionally independent and original way of life that extended families and kin networks of stockbreeders have reconceived for their daily existence—how they make a living, how they relate to the world outside, and how they understand their health. Rather than wallow in victimhood, what emerges is a remarkable story of resilience in the face of catastrophic events.