Volume 1: Radiation Effects and Events (Winter 2024)

Permanent URI for this collection

For complete issues of Dialogues Across Health, Science, Humanities, and Archives, visit the journal’s website: https://dahsha.blogs.rice.edu/.  


Themed Issue: Radiation Events and Effects

Front Matter (PDF)

Editorial (forthcoming)
—Melissa A. Bailar, Kim Dunn, Philip L. Montgomery, Tomoko Y. Steen, and Armin D. Weinberg


Reporting Exposure: The Midwives of Nagasaki
—Clint Wilson (PDF)

Living in the Nuclear Age: A Course for Medical Students Outlining Key Aspects of Medicine and Health Effects
—Wayne X. Shandera (PDF)

An Overview of the Nuclear Age (forthcoming)
—Tom Kean

Houston-Semipalatinsk Partnership

Experiences, Observations, and Recommendations Related to Visits to the Semey Region of Kazakhstan from the Perspective of a Hospital Administrator
—Randall P. Wright (PDF)

The Houston-Semipalatinsk Healthcare Partnership: A Lesson in Science Diplomacy (forthcoming)
—Rishi V. Shridharan, Larry Laurfman, Sara Rozin, and Armin D. Weinberg

The Value of Interviews in Representing the Long-Term Effects of Radiation in Kazakhstan
—Annika Nambiar (PDF)

Back Matter



Editorial Board

Melissa A. Bailar, Lead Editor

Kim Dunn, Editor

Philip L. Montgomery, Editor

Tomoko Y. Steen, Editor

Armin D. Weinberg, Editor

Brooke Clark, Managing Editor

Manshi Patel, Journal Assistant


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 5 of 5
  • Item
    Experiences, Observations, and Recommendations Related to Visits to the Semey Region of Kazakhstan from the Perspective of a Hospital Administrator
    (2024-04) Wright, Randall P.
    This community case study is based on personal experiences as the Methodist Hospital representative assigned to the American International Health Alliance (AIHA) project in Semey, Kazakhstan during 1995-1996. Although I had over twenty years of hospital management experience, the healthcare structure in Kazakhstan was functioning on a rudimentary level, which made my background of limited help. Specifically, the transition from a Soviet Republic to an independent nation had disrupted the economy and left the healthcare system in shambles. Over three visits to the region—Feb 1995, Aug 1995, and September 1996—I was able to see cultural and economic barriers to changing the healthcare structure to a more efficient, all-encompassing medicine model. In broad terms, the lessons I learned were: (1) how poorly prepared I was to help with the terrible conditions in the Semey hospitals; (2) the difficulty presented by dependence on translation, which limited development of strong personal relationships with the Kazakhs; (3) the need to balance various Kazakh interests and the competition among hospitals and entities over control of the AIHA project; (4) an appreciation for Bishop Woodrow Hearn and Dr. Armin Weinberg, who first saw the needs and opportunities to help this region; and (5) missed opportunities to make my role more productive, such as contacting non-government organization (NGO) representatives on the ground prior to travel. The goal of this case study is to share what I learned and experienced during the visits, working as part of an international program that crossed cultural and governmental lines, and these lessons remain relevant today.
  • Item
    Reporting Exposure: The Midwives of Nagasaki
    (2024-03) Wilson, Clint
    Between June 1950 and January 1954, the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC) piloted a novel program partnering with midwives’ associations in Nagasaki and Hiroshima, branding the enterprise the “Genetics Registration Program.” This short-lived collaboration aimed to surface firsthand reports of pre- or neonatal death and even physical corpses for autopsies, for which midwives were remunerated at a set scale by the American scientists in charge. So detailed were these largely financial records that reporting within “12 hrs. of death” was worth double the rate of reporting “later than 24 hrs. after death,” according to memos contained within William “Jack” Schull Collection at the McGovern Historical Center in Houston, Texas. This article, “Reporting Exposure: The Midwives of Nagasaki,” interrogates how the “Early Termination Program,” a branch of the Genetics program defined “exposure” and how the “exposed” were determined to be “profitable objects for study,” as one memo articulated. At stake in this project is more than historical analysis; these ABCC documents illustrate paradigmatic responses to the scalar and social logics of toxicity, particular with reference to the measurement of distance and time. These archival documents reveal invaluable insights about first-of-its-kind statistical collation and confirmation biases, to say nothing of how they animate conversations about life, death, and the sociopolitical tensions this arrangement undoubtedly complicated.
  • Item
    The Value of Interviews in Representing the Long-Term Effects of Radiation in Kazakhstan
    (2024-03) Nambiar, Annika
    Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan was once the Soviet Union’s carefully concealed testing site for nuclear weapons, unbeknown even to nearby residents. In 1989, information about radioactive contamination became public knowledge, causing outcry. As a result, Semipalatinsk and its surrounding areas have high rates of structural and systemic health issues from nuclear testing, which were exacerbated by the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The long-term effects of this testing continue to burden the Kazakhstan healthcare system and its people today. In 1995, the American International Health Alliance (AIHA) formed the Houston-Semipalatinsk Partnership (HSP) to support better outcomes through systemic changes in affected regions following their independence from the former USSR. This paper, “The Value of Interviews in Representing the Long-Term Effects of Radiation in Kazakhstan,” discusses the subset of a collection of interviews about radiation effects and events involving hospital and healthcare administrators from the Texas Medical Center (TMC) Library and Kazakhstan who participated in the HSP. These interviews demonstrate how first-person sources highlight the voice and experience of the individual, conserve nonverbal information, and serve as a dynamic and engaging method to share history with the public. This work draws from interviews that the author and other Rice undergraduates conducted. These interviews are available online through Rice University’s Woodson Research Center and the TMC Library for the public to learn about these efforts in depth.
  • Item
    Front Matter
  • Item
    Living in the Nuclear Age: A Course for Medical Students Outlining Key Aspects of Medicine and Health Effects
    (2024-03) Shandera, Wayne X.
    At Baylor College of Medicine, for nearly two decades, we have provided an elective course entitled “Nuclear Ethics,” in which we discuss the ways living in the nuclear age impacts medicine. The course reviews the health effects of the World War II Japanese bombings (including a discussion of the local medical library repository of a large collection of data related to the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission), the health effects of nuclear testing including the Marshall Islands and the Nevada Test site (the most heavily bombed place on earth), the risks attendant with employment in the nuclear industry, the current controversies attendant with nuclear power and the data associated with accidents such as those at Three Mile Islands, Chernobyl, and Fukushima, and a final discussion of nuclear conflicts in the world today. The students who enroll are largely first-year medical students. The Houston and Baylor College of Medicine communities benefited greatly from the presence on retirement of Dr. William Schull, the geneticist and epidemiologist who led many of the activities of the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission. In his retirement he continued to teach students about the effects of the Japanese bombings. Through his nineties he eloquently described his love for the Japanese culture and provided in depth insights, knowledge, and experience about the effects of ionizing radiation. These discussions served as an impressive example for the medical students in the course. Much of his material are in the repository at the McGovern Historical Center of the Texas Medical Center Library. Students participate by readings, discussion, and detailed assignments. The course is well-received and emphasizes an importance of physician involvement in nuclear issues, including the key role that the Physicians for Social Responsibility played in the test ban treaties and in the dissolution of the USSR in 1989.