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Radioactivism and the Atomic Age

May 19, 2011

After a very successful visit to Southern California, Hitomi Kamanaka is now in Chicago for the major symposium The Atomic Age: from Hiroshima to the Present.  If you happen to be in the Chicago area, check it out!  I can’t imagine what it must feel like for the organizers of this event.  They planned it long before March 11th.

Although Kamanaka-san won’t be there, Ashes to Honey is premiering in Rio de Janeiro at the Uranium Film Festival this weekend.

Next week, she will be in Montréal to screen both the new film and Hibakusha at the End of the World!

Her visit to University of Redlands generated a great deal of interest.  About 120 people attended the screening and discussion of Ashes to Honey on Tuesday.  In addition to students and faculty, there was a strong community presence at the event, and members of the community also participated in the Q&A session.

After the screening, Kamanaka-san told the audience how she came to make the trilogy of anti-nuclear documentaries, and we hope she will share that story with audiences in Montréal too.  By all accounts, her words to the Redlands audience were captivating and stirring, and at the end of the Q&A she received a standing ovation.

Earlier on Tuesday, Kamanaka-san also visited a Univ. of Redlands class and later tweeted the following:

“Screened Radiation: a Slow Death, the English version of Hibakusha, this morning at the University of Redlands.  The students didn’t know about radiation exposure in their own country.  It might take them a little time to digest.” (

This tweet is echoed in many retweets (including one from Nahoko Takato , an aid worker taken hostage in Iraq in 2004, released, and subsequently subjected to unconscionable slander in Japan) and in commentaries like this one.

Audience members at the screening and discussion received the following “handout” (as he humbly called it) made by Prof. Kota Inoue. Click on either of the images below to view a larger version.

Everyone planning to attend the events in Montréal next week should read this wonderful document that clearly articulates why Kamanaka-san’s work is so very important at this particular moment and in relation to our collective survival.  Thank you, Prof. Inoue, for sharing this with us!

Prof. Inoue was interviewed earlier this year when Project east306 was still an experimental radio class.  Click here to listen to the podcast of that interview, conducted by Cameron McKeich.  As a scholar and as an educator, Prof. Inoue contributes to knowledge production in ways that reach far beyond the campus of Redlands University, where he recently was nominated to be professor of the year.  Here is an article that appeared in The Bulldog Weekly, the newspaper produced by Redlands students.  Click on the image below to view a larger version.

According to this article, Barbara Morris, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences explained that Prof. Inoue was “given a notice of ‘non-reappointment’ but still holds a multi-year contract with the university, meaning that the status of Inoue’s contract will not change, even if he wins the award.”  This gave me pause.  Regardless of whether or not Prof. Inoue’s contract changes at this point, the shift in status from tenure-track to being laid off without the possibility of applying for tenure is deeply troubling.

Prof. Inoue, who was hired into a tenure-track position at Redlands in 2006, has been subjected to a slow lay-off in the form of “non-reappointment” along with a number of other colleagues.  These “non-reappointments” came after the private university’s earlier attempts at downsizing failed.  In the spring of 2010, the administration proposed eliminating the Degree Programs in Computer Science and Speech/Debate, as well as the Japanese curriculum (only) of the Asian Studies program.  (The level of interest in Radioactivism illustrates how wrong-headed the proposal to shut down Japan Studies was.)  The School of Arts and Sciences faculty met to debate this proposal and the overwhelming majority expressed opposition to it.  A few days later, the Dean withdrew the entire proposal.  Several months later, Prof. Inoue and other colleagues received letters of “non-reappointment.” These non-reappointments were based on “institutional need” – in other words, the institution no longer needed these professors.  This is quite insulting language, particularly in regards to someone like Prof. Inoue who has contributed so much to the university, to students, and to the university’s profile in the community and internationally.

Prof. Inoue speaks a bit about the circumstances of this lay-off in his interview with Cameron.

As much as I am celebrating the success of Radioactivism from afar and as much as we, here in Montréal, benefit from what Prof. Inoue has shared with us, I can’t help also feeling as though Redlands didn’t deserve the recognition and the far-reaching attention given the lack of regard their “non-reappointment” decision shows to Prof. Inoue.

by Adrienne Hurley

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