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Natural and Unnatural Disasters: 3/11, Asbestos, and the Unmaking of Japanís Modern World
Friday November 7, 2014
3:30 – 5:00 PM
The massive earthquake of 2011 unleashed a tsunami that swept away entire communities. Along with an enduring nuclear legacy, it also left an estimated 25 millions tons of rubble, much of it contaminated with asbestos and other carcinogenic toxins. Indeed, the unnatural disaster of cleaning up Japan’s pulverized and aerosolized built environment remained. This talk investigates asbestos in the construction and, more importantly, destruction of Japan’s built environment, with a focus on the impact of the 3/11 disaster and the later clean up. (Part of a larger Guggenheim-funded project concerned with the unmaking of the modern built world, and what it means for the future of human health.)
Brett L. Walker is Regents Professor and Michael P. Malone Professor of History at Montana State University, Bozeman. His research and teaching interests include Japanese history, world environmental history, and the history of science and medicine. He is author of The Conquest of Ainu Lands: Ecology and Culture in Japanese Expansion, 1590-1800, The Lost Wolves of Japan, Toxic Archipelago: A History of Industrial Disease in Japan, and the forthcoming A Concise History of Japan, from Cambridge University Press. He has also co-edited two volumes. He spends most of his time in southwestern Montana and the San Juan Islands, where he enjoys the outdoors.