Anthropology, University of Colorado - Boulder
Using thirteen months of fieldwork collected in rural Kazakh villages, this research explores the ways in which indigenous Kazakhs living on the edge of the former Semipalatinsk nuclear test site interact with the enduring authority of scientific expertise on all matters nuclear and construct their own narratives of health, suffering, and well-being. I demonstrate that since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the advent of neoliberal market reforms in Kazakhstan a new kind of post-socialist identity has appeared. Taking the 1949-1989 Soviet atomic testing program within the greater Cold War context as background, this research project investigates current Kazakh state understandings of health and livelihood within a landscape marred by hundreds of nuclear detonations, an era of heightened secrecy and disinformation campaigns, and current post-Soviet nationalist ambitions to gain an economic foothold into the global 21st century.
Magdalena Stawkowski received her M.A. from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2007 and is currently a Ph.D. candidate there. She spent thirteen months conducting fieldwork in ethnic Kazakh communities located on the edge of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site in Kazakhstan. Her dissertation explores the current Kazakh understanding of health and livelihood in the context of Soviet nuclear weapons testing. Her work has been funded by IREX, NSF REG grant, and the Albert E. Smith grant for the New Nuclear Age related research. Recently, Magdalena was awarded a medal by Olzhas Suleimenov, the Ambassador of Kazakhstan to UNESCO, for her contribution to the anti-nuclear movement. She is also a consultant for a joint project between Atomic Testing Museum in Nevada and the EcoMuseum in Karaganda entitled “Nuclear Weapons Testing Legacy: The Tale of Two Cultures.” Magdalena’s project came out of her life experiences of the Chernobyl disaster while living in Poland.
Photo from the field - Magdalena Stawkowski