According to The Atomic Science Heritage Foundation, “the scientists and knowledge coming out of Princeton University were instrumental for the success of the Manhattan Project.”[1] Popular historical accounts of the development of the atomic sciences in the United States narrate the period between World War II and the Cold War with the language of exceptionalism, progressivism, and patriotism. Yet this is only one side of the history. Accomplishments in the atomic sciences were made possible by institutionalized secrecy, environmental degradation, cultural disruptions, and the mobilizations of racialized others to mine and refine resources, build and maintain infrastructures, and remediate and displace their toxic aftermaths. Speaking from the perspective of the dispossessed, Indigenous scholars such as Ward Churchill and Winona LaDuke[2] describe the consequences of the U.S. engagement with nuclear science as a form of “radioactive colonialism” which has disproportionately and intergenerationally damaged Indigenous lands, health, and well-being.

The Nuclear Princeton project aims to revisit the scientists and knowledge coming out of Princeton University and the under-acknowledged impacts of nuclear science, technology, and engineering on Native lands and communities. The project involves archival and ethonographic research and interviews to connect with people both involved with and affected by the nuclear age.

Princeton undergraduates interested in nuclear things, Native issues and culture will reflect on the impacts institutional legacies had on Indigenous lands, communities, and cultures and will actively participate in creating a more just and equal society.

Nuclear Princeton collaborates with the student group, Natives at Princeton and supports efforts to establish an Indigenous Studies certificate program. It is comitted to providing an opportunity to underrepresented groups to explore alternative narratives that center their own and their communities’ experiences.

[2] Churchill, Ward and Wiona LaDuke (1983). Native America: The Political Economy of Radioactive Colonialism. The Insurgent Sociologist, 13(3): 51-78