What Is the Nuclear Future We Want? Collaborative Mapping as a Tool to Imagine Indigenous and Settler Futurities Beyond Nuclear Imperialism and Nuclear Colonialism


Dr Karly Burch (she/her) is a United States citizen and Aotearoa New Zealand resident currently working as a Research Fellow at the University of Otago’s Centre for Sustainability. Karly grew up as a settler in Hawai'i and has been studying nuclear issues for over ten years. She earned a joint MSc in agroecology from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences and ISARA-Lyon in 2012. Karly also received a full doctoral scholarship from the University of Otago in 2015 and earned her PhD in sociology in August 2018. She is currently working on a book manuscript titled Eating a Nuclear Disaster: Food, Silence and Science After Fukushima Daiichi. Karly enjoys engaging in transdisciplinary collaborations and mentoring emerging scholars. 

Emily Simmonds (she/her) MA, is a PhD candidate in Science and Technology Studies at York University, and a Researcher at the Centre for Wise Practices in Indigenous Health at Women’s College Hospital, Toronto, Canada. She is a Métis researcher with mixed ancestry (Métis, Scottish and English) working at the intersection of critical anthropology and Indigenous science and technology studies. Her research praxis is committed to advancing anti-colonial research designs in the social sciences and the health sciences. Her doctoral research uses ethnographic modes of analysis to explore how the injurious effects of the colonial nuclear infrastructure in the context of Canada are made permissible and challenged by diverse groups of social actors. She is an alum of the feminist and anticolonial Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research (CLEAR), the Technoscience Research Unit (TRU), and the Digital Research Ethics Collaboratory (DREC), as well as a contributor to the Technoscience Salon and the Politics of Evidence Working Group.

Sonja Mueller (she/her) is a PhD candidate at the Centre for Sustainability at the University of Otago. Sonja has a passion for GIS and the power of maps to tell a story. Her research explores community resilience to natural hazards, using participatory mapping and a community-based approach to consider present and future resilience to a major earthquake on the West Coast of Aotearoa New Zealand. 

Nuclear weapons threaten all life on Earth. They also come from the land.

Thus, land-centered strategies can play a central role in their abolition.

Karly (settler), Emily (Métis), and Sonja (settler), are developing maps which locate nuclear infrastructures on lands and in waters to illustrate the global expansion of nuclear imperialism and nuclear colonialism from the 1940s to today.  These maps center colonial-settler land relations to acknowledge how Indigenous Peoples across the globe continue to suffer from being exposed to a disproportionate amount of nuclear destruction and pollution from both nuclear weapons and nuclear energy technologies.

Watch Karly and Emily talk about their research during this instagram live.