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Chain Reactions: Nuclear colonialism in South Australia
In 2017, following extensive negotiations, 122 states voted in favour of a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Importantly, this treaty’s preamble acknowledges the ‘disproportionate impact of nuclear-weapon activities on indigenous peoples’. This preamble was vitally informed by the lived experiences of Aboriginal people from South Australia who travelled to the United Nations to share the intergenerational impacts of nuclear processes upon them and their communities. These are processes that have been facilitated by, and enacted through, colonialism since the beginning of the twentieth century. This seminar—and my thesis more generally—responds to the invocation provided by the preamble by addressing the question: in what ways has the nuclear order interacted with, co-opted or facilitated colonialism in South Australia? In considering this question, this seminar details how my thesis interrogates the multifaceted, fluid and entrenched nature of ‘nuclear colonialism’ as it was enacted, experienced and engaged with across the twentieth century in South Australia. Doing so provides new insights into how the term can be defined and deployed by historians while illuminating the hybridity, adaptability and persistence of various forms of colonialism in contemporary Australia.