Kate Brown, Associate Professor of History, presented the Social Sciences Forum “Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters,” to a large audience Wednesday afternoon in the Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery.
Brown spoke about the plutonium disasters of the United States and Soviet Union, telling the stories of Richland, Washington and Ozersk, Russia. They are the first two cities in the world to produce plutonium. She described how American and Soviet leaders created plutopias, which are communities of nuclear families living in highly-subsidized atomic cities.
For many, living in these cities was like “winning the golden ticket,” Brown said because families could achieve great prosperity. She also told stories of many temporary workers forced to live outside these communities who often performed the most dangerous tasks. Because the communities were so secret, Brown said they did provide prosperity for many, but also concealed disasters that remain unstable to this day.
Kate Brown is author of A Biography of No Place: From Ethnic Borderland to Soviet Heartland and Plutopia: Nuclear Families in Atomic Cities and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters.