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Bravo for the Marshallese: Regaining Control in a Post-Nuclear, Post-Colonial World 2nd Edition

Holly M. Barker

  • Published
  • Previous Editions 2004
  • 208 Pages


This case study describes the role an applied anthropologist takes to help Marshallese communities understand the impact of radiation exposure on the environment and themselves, and addresses problems stemming from the U.S. nuclear weapons testing program conducted in the Marshall Islands from 1946-1958. The author demonstrates how the U.S. Government limits its responsibilities for dealing with the problems it created in the Marshall Islands. Through archival, life history, and ethnographic research, the author constructs a compelling history of the testing program from a Marshallese perspective. For more than five decades, the Marshallese have experienced the effects of the weapons testing program on their health and their environment. This book amplifies the voice of the Marshallese who share their knowledge about illnesses, premature deaths, and exile from their homelands. The author uses linguistic analysis to show how the Marshallese developed a unique radiation language to discuss problems related to their radiation exposure problems that never existed before the testing program. Drawing on her own experiences working with the government of the Marshall Islands, the author emphasizes the role of an applied anthropologist in influencing policy, and empowering community leaders to seek meaningful remedies.

Holly M. Barker, University of Washington

Holly M. Barker began her work with the Marshallese when she served as a Peace Corps volunteer from 1988 to 1990 on Mili Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). After a brief stint with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill, Holly joined the RMI's embassy in Washington, D.C., where she was employed until 2008. While working full-time at the embassy in Washington, D.C., Holly earned an M.A. in Education and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from American University. Holly has represented the RMI at community, national, bilateral, and international forums, including conferences at the United Nations on such topics such as the extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. She currently resides with her family in Seattle, Washington, and is a full-time lecturer in the Anthropology Department at the University of Washington.
  • The second edition follows the Marshallese in their migrations to the United States and their continuing personal and legal struggles to cope with intergenerational health problems, poverty, and social marginalization.
  • Chapter 12 is a new chapter for the second edition. It is titled "The Failure of Reconciliation and the Mobility of Structural Violence" and features a discussion on applied and public anthropology.
  • The anthropologist draws on 12 years of experience working with the Marshallese government and the communities most affected by the weapons testing program.
  • This case study illustrates the importance of linguistic anthropology in helping the Marshallese and others understand the experiences of the nuclear testing program on health and the environment.
  • Loss of, damage to, and exile from land have profound implications for the Marshallese people and their way of life. The author uses graphic examples to demonstrate how radiological contamination of land alters the social fabric of Marshallese communities.
  • The author's role in helping communities empower themselves to seek restitution is a revealing illustration of the work being done by applied anthropologists today.
  • Global comparisons are made to other communities where cultures have been radically affected by radiological contamination.
1. Setting the Stage: The Geography, Social/Political Organization, and Language of the Marshal Islands.
2. A Colonial History of the Marshall Islands.
3. The U.S. Nuclear Weapons Testing Program.
4. Ethnography and a Marshallese Narrative of History.
5. Alienation from the Land: The Rongelap Experience.
6. Language and the Testing Program.
7. Uncovering Themes in Linguistic Data.
8. Changed Circumstances: Petitioning the U.S. Government.
9. Other Case Studies.
10. Method and Community Empowerment.
11. Competing Narratives of History.
12. The Failure of Reconciliation and the Mobility of Structural Violence.

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  • ISBN-10: 128502883X
  • ISBN-13: 9781285028835
  • STARTING AT $13.49

  • ISBN-10: 1111833842
  • ISBN-13: 9781111833848
  • Bookstore Wholesale Price $59.50
  • RETAIL $78.95