A new article by Anna Stanley in Antipode, “Wasted Life: Labour, Liveliness, and the Production of Value” investigates the link between the uranium extractive industry and Dene environmental health in terms of a powerful calculus that creates wastage and invisibility.

Abstract

This paper asks how Dene (and alongside it non-human) life is connected to the production and circulation of value in the Canadian uranium economy. I examine the ways in which life links up with value during the lifetime of the mine and at the time of a major public inquiry into its health and ecological effects. Against the backdrop of the highly uneven and deeply racialized economy of nuclear production I make two intertwined arguments. First I argue that “wastage” is a reconfiguration of nature integral to the production of capitalist value in which capital addresses itself directly to the vital processes of (some) living things. Second, at a time when the relational politics that shaped value were being actively subverted by claims publicly advanced by Deline First Nation Dene about cancer death and contamination, I argue that a risk calculation central to the Canada Deline Uranium Table’s analysis worked to governmentally secure evidence of wastage and restore the configurations of in/visibility that shaped value production in this economy.

Not having been warned about the known hazards, Dene men even slept on burlap bags containing uranium and radium. Image from Beyond Nuclear.

Not having been warned about the known hazards, Dene men even slept on burlap bags containing uranium and radium. Image from Beyond Nuclear.