Shannon Cram wins Ludwik Fleck Prize

Shannon Cram has been awarded the 2024 Ludwik Fleck Prize for her book, Unmaking the Bomb. Given annually by the Society for Social Studies of Science, the Fleck Prize recognizes books for their “contributions to the field of Science and Technology Studies, their novelty, and their overall scholarly quality.” The award committee wrote the following of Unmaking the Bomb: “Beautifully written, moving and so important! Subtitled ‘Environmental Cleanup and the Politics of Impossibility,’ this is the story of the decommissioned Hanford nuclear complex, or more generally the problem of nuclear waste and a post-nuclear future, the ‘after’ to atomic violence (3). More generally still, it explores the questions of how ‘risk management’ asserts the possibility of calculative control, on one hand, and what it means to act in the face of that which must be un/done but appears irreversible on the other (think not only nuclear disarmament/decommissioning but also climate change, demilitarisation, etc.). The book follows the sites and discourses around the ‘cleaning up’ of radioactive material in Washington state. It moves across scientific and technological circuits even though Hanford remains the fulcrum of the work. Despite this rootedness, the ideas that the book discusses resonate far and beyond, particularly in places that live with toxicity, and help to think with the ethics of environmental cleanup and airs the impossibility of going back to a world without climate catastrophe. The stakes are high, the writing is compelling, and the material is painstakingly put together. This is a personal/political story, and one that takes ambiguity and contradiction not as things to be resolved, but as openings to critical engagement and to action in and through its impossibility.”