Nuclear Summer


A walk through South Africa's nuclear pasts and futures.

Sunday Times, 7 Feb 2016 | Photographs by Neil Overy (above) and Barry Christianson.

Recently I took part in a ‘walking residency’, making my way from Cape Point to the centre of Cape Town. Writers, artists, archaeologists, architects, academics - 12 of us hiked along coastlines and firebreaks and through informal settlements.

We visited ancient shell middens and ruined stone cottages, the site of forced removals. Huge cloudbanks filled up False Bay and broke against the landmass; weather systems came and went. We got sunburnt, argumentative, sentimental, sunburnt again. We put away our electronic devices and began remembering our dreams...

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Sources and further reading...

David Beresford, How We Blew Up Koeberg (...and Escaped on a Bicycle). 15 December 1995, Mail and Guardian.

John D'Agata, About a Mountain (New York: W.W. Norton, 2011)

David Fig, Uranium Road: Questioning South Africa's Nuclear Direction (Johannesburg: Jacana, 2005).

Gabrielle Hecht, Being Nuclear: Africans and the Global Uranium Trade (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2012).

George Monbiot and Theo Simon,  The Heart of the Matter. 9 October 2012.

Into Eternity: A Film for the Future (Michael Madsen: Magic Hour Films, 2010).

The Nuclear Debate: Proceedings of the Conference on Nuclear Policy for a Democratic South Africa, Environmental Monitoring Group & the Western Cape ANC Science and Technology Group, 11-13 Feb. 1994.

World Nuclear Industry Status Report (2015/6).

Fred Pearce, The Legacy.Granta 133: What Have We Done? (2015).

It created not just a climate of fear, but also a landscape of secrets.

Arundhati Roy, The End of Imagination.Outlook, August 1998.


Containing Uncertainty: Design for Infinite Quarantine. 24 Feb 2010, Friends of the Pleistocene:

We’ve also been intrigued by the questions that emerge when the time of infinite quarantine and the space of deep geologic repository are read across one another: By rendering vast swaths of landscape useless, that is, lethal to life, for millions of years to come, are we successfully quarantining what is toxic from us? Or are we actually quarantining ourselves from our present and future worlds? Do deep geologic repositories quarantine the earth itself? Do they quarantine time itself? When we create these “infinite” quarantines, do we simultaneously protect landscapes (render them as “wilderness”) and destroy them (by turning them into zones of infinite exclusion)?