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Monday, March 21, 2022


Originally Recorded on 03.18.2022

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Russia’s assault on one of Europe’s largest nuclear power plants in Zaporizhzhia followed the invasion of Ukraine and the occupation of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant one week earlier. Russia made explicit with these actions that it was willing to stand in violation of international humanitarian law to achieve the goals of the state. What has become clear is that this pursuit of conventional warfare risks nuclear catastrophe. The third edition of The Humanity Dialogues includes Kate Brown, the author of Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future, and Svitlana Matviyenko, an educator and critical media analyst based in Ukraine, in a conversation that addresses the Soviet Union’s response to the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster and the threats posed by the Russian military assaults on operational power plants throughout Ukraine. Filmmaker Oleksiy Radynski will discuss his research on the wider implications of Russia’s actions in what he refers to as the weaponization of the energy sector.

Kate Brown is the Thomas M. Siebel Distinguished Professor in the History of Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is the author of several prize-winning histories, including Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters (Oxford 2013). Her latest book, Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future (Norton 2019), translated into nine languages, won the silver medal for the Laura Shannon Prize, and the Reginald Zelnik and Marshall D. Shulman Prize and was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Critics Circle Award.

Svitlana Matviyenko is Assistant Professor of Critical Media Analysis in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University with a research focus on information and cyberwar; political economy of information; media and environment; infrastructure studies; STS. Matviyenko has written about practices of resistance and mobilization; digital militarism, dis-, and misinformation; internet history; cybernetics; psychoanalysis; posthumanism; the Soviet and the post-Soviet techno-politics; nuclear cultures, including the Chernobyl Zone of Exclusion. She is a co-editor of The Imaginary App (MIT Press, 2014) and Lacan and the Posthuman (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). She is a co-author of Cyberwar and Revolution: Digital Subterfuge in Global Capitalism (Minnesota UP, 2019).

Oleksiy Radynski is a filmmaker and writer based in Kyiv. His films have been screened at International Film Festival Rotterdam, Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, Docudays IFF, the Institute of Contemporary Arts (London), and SAV V Y Contemporary (Berlin), among others. After graduating from Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, he studied at the Home Workspace Program (Ashkal Alwan, Beirut). In 2008, he cofounded Visual Culture Research Center, an initiative for art, knowledge, and politics in Kyiv. His texts have been published in Proxy Politics: Power and Subversion in a Networked Age (Archive Books, 2017), Art and Theory of Post-1989 Central and East Europe: A Critical Anthology (MoMA, 2018), Being Together Precedes Being (Archive Books, 2019), and e-flux journal.

Moderated by MARTA KUZMA

Marta Kuzma is a Professor of Art at and the former Dean of the Yale School of Art. She is also the former Chancellor of the Royal Academy of Arts in Stockholm, Sweden. Kuzma arrived in Kyiv in 1990 to found the Soros Center for Contemporary Art where she had been director through 2000. Her curatorial and academic practice centers around art’s position within the larger economic, social, and political landscape as pursued in her postgraduate research in aesthetics and art theory from the Center for Research in Modern European Philosophy in London.

This event is introduced by MOLLY BRUNSON, Associate Professor, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Department of the History of Art and Director of the Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies Program, Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale University. This series is organized and supported by REEES: The Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies Program Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale University.

Art Design by: Milo Bonacci, Yale MFA ’21