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Atomic Junction
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Book description

After Atomic Junction, along the Haatso-Atomic Road there lies the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, home to Africa's first nuclear programme after independence. Travelling along this road, Abena Dove Osseo-Asare gathers together stories of conflict and compromise on an African nuclear frontier. She speaks with a generation of African scientists who became captivated with 'the atom' and studied in the Soviet Union to make nuclear physics their own. On Pluton Lane and Gamma Avenue, these scientists displaced quiet farming villages in their bid to establish a scientific metropolis, creating an epicentre for Ghana's nuclear physics community. By placing interviews with town leaders, physicists and local entrepreneurs alongside archival records, Osseo-Asare explores the impact of scientific pursuit on areas surrounding the reactor, focusing on how residents came to interpret activities on these 'Atomic Lands'. This combination of historical research, personal and ethnographic observations shows how Ghanaians now stand at a crossroad, where some push to install more reactors, whilst others merely seek pipe-borne water.

Reviews

'A carefully researched but also deeply personal history of nuclear science in Ghana. Osseo-Asare’s history takes us from Ghanaian nuclear scientists’ measurements of fallout from French nuclear tests in Algeria in the early 1960s through to Ghana’s acquisition of a nuclear reactor from China in the 1990s, and further into the present day. Commendable for its breadth of perspective and fascinating detail.'

Hugh Gusterson - George Washington University, Washington, DC

'A meticulous historian with an ethnographer’s eye for rich detail, Osseo-Asare boldly overturns standard accounts of Cold War atomic science, placing Ghanaian aspirations for decolonized knowledge and talented black researchers at the center. A brilliant and utterly original rendering of one nation’s nuclear dreams that are at once liberatory and frustrated.'

Alondra Nelson - President of the Social Science Research Council

‘… a well-rounded account of an independent African country’s nuclear past. Given the author’s family ties to Ghana and particularly to the Ghanaian community of nuclear scientists, the story reflects a very personal engagement with the subject. Osseo-Asare has most likely produced the authoritative account of Ghana’s nuclear endeavor, including its achievements and setbacks, in a clear and balanced manner.’

Robin Möser Source: African Studies Review

‘Atomic Junction is a pleasure to read. Osseo-Asare writes with flair and weaves together evidence from a range of archival and oral narratives with major themes in the history of atomic power, science in the Cold War, decolonization, and social and cultural history … This undoubtedly is an important contribution to the growing literature in the history of science and technology in postcolonial Africa.’

Jeremy M. Rich Source: H-Africa

‘Atomic Junction is a great feat of multidisciplinary research presented in a tightly written and lucid narrative.’

Damilola Adebayo Source: Technology and Culture

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