Advertisement

Translating Proof: Contested Illness, Radiation Exposure, and the Health Claims of Nuclear Test Veterans

  • Catherine TrundleEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Biolegalities book series (BIOGA)

Abstract

How are biological facts about bodily suffering made legally legible in injury and compensation cases? What makes some claims persuasive and efficacious, and why might some fail? Drawing on research in New Zealand and the UK with military veterans of British nuclear tests, this chapter follows test veterans into various social arenas to explore the politics of proof-making. I track the shifting shape of knowledge, from embodied experiences of illness, epidemiological studies and genetic research, to legal contests about culpability in the British Supreme Court. I argue that the task of making various forms of proof count, medically, legally, and politically, depends on how effectively different types of proof can translate within and across varied domains of knowledge. This reveals the diverse and often contradicting logics that govern different systems of contemporary expert knowledge, and the ease or difficulty claimants experience navigating between them.

References

  1. Arnold, L & Smith, M 2006, Britain, Australia and the bomb: the nuclear tests and their aftermath, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke.Google Scholar
  2. Asad, T 1986, ‘The concepts of cultural translation in British social anthropology’, in J Clifford & GE Marcus (eds), Writing culture: the poetics and politics of ethnography, University of California Press, Berkeley.Google Scholar
  3. Benjamin W 1996 [1923], ‘The task of the translator’, in M Bullock & MW Jennings (eds), Walter Benjamin, selected writings volume 1, 1913–1926, Harvard University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  4. Butler, J 1997, Excitable speech: a politics of the performative, Routledge, New York.Google Scholar
  5. Callon, M 1986, ‘Some elements of a sociology of translation: the domestication of the scallops and the fishermen of St. Brieuc Bay’, in J Law (ed.), Power, action & belief: a new sociology of knowledge? Routledge and Kegan Paul, London.Google Scholar
  6. Crawford, J 1989, The involvement of the Royal New Zealand Navy in the British nuclear testing programmes of 1957 and 1958, Ministry of Defence Report, Wellington.Google Scholar
  7. Crawford, J 2001, New Zealand observers and indoctrinees at nuclear weapons tests: 1956–1958, Ministry of Defence Report, Wellington.Google Scholar
  8. DeGroot, G 2005, The bomb: a history of hell on earth, Pimlico Random House, London.Google Scholar
  9. Gal, S 2015, ‘Politics of translation’, Annual Review of Anthropology, vol. 44, pp. 225–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Giordano, C 2008, ‘Practices of translation and the making of migrant subjectivities in contemporary Italy’, American Ethnologist, vol. 35, no. 4, pp. 558–606.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hande, M, Azizova, T, Geard, C, Burak, L, Mitchell, C, Khokhryakov, V et al. 2003, ‘Past exposure to densely ionizing radiation leaves a unique permanent signature in the genome’, American Journal of Human Genetics, vol. 72, pp. 1162–1170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Latour, B 1987, Science in action: how to follow scientists and engineers through society, Harvard University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  13. Ministry of Defence (Respondent) v AB and others (Appellants) judgement 2012 U.K. Supreme Court, https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/docs/uksc-2010-0247-judgment.pdf.
  14. Montgomery, SL 2000, Science in translation: movements of knowledge through cultures and time, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
  15. Moon, P & Fenton, S 2002, ‘Bound into a fateful union: Henry Williams’ translation of the Treaty of Waitangi into Maori in February 1840’, Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol. 111, no. 1, pp. 51–63.Google Scholar
  16. Muirhead, C, Bingham, D, Haylock, R, O’Hagan, J, Goodill, A, Berridge, G et al. 2003, Mortality and cancer incidences 1952–1998 in UK participants in the UK atmospheric nuclear weapons tests and experimental programmes, National Radiological Protection Board, Oxon.Google Scholar
  17. Nelson, D 2015, Duke who counts? the mathematics of death and life after genocide, Duke University Press, Durham.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Shore, C 2005, ‘All in the translation: interpreting the EU constitution’, Sites, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 10–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Shostak, S 2013, Exposed science: genes, environment, and the politics of population, University of California Press, Berkeley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Trundle, C 2017, ‘Genetic bystanders: familial responsibility and the state’s accountability to veterans of nuclear tests’, in S Trnka & C Trundle (eds), Competing responsibilities: the ethics and politics of contemporary life, Duke University Press, Durham, NC.Google Scholar
  21. Trundle, C & Scott, B 2013, ‘Elusive genes: nuclear test veterans’ experiences of genetic citizenship and biomedical refusal’, Medical Anthropology, vol. 32, no. 6, pp. 501–517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Trundle, C, Singh, I & Broer, C 2014, ‘Fighting to be heard: contested diagnoses’, in A Jutel & K Dew (eds), Social issues in diagnosis: an introduction for students and clinicians, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.Google Scholar
  23. Viveiros de Castro, E 2004, ‘Perspectival anthropology and the method of controlled equivocation’, Tipiti: Journal of Social Anthropology of Lowland South America, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 1–22.Google Scholar
  24. Wahab, M, Nickless, E, Najar-M’Kacher, R, Parmentier, C, Podd, J & Rowland, R 2008, ‘Elevated chromosome translocation frequencies in New Zealand nuclear test veterans’, Cytogenetic and Genome Research, vol. 121, no. 2, pp. 79–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. West, P 2005, ‘Translation, value, and space: theorizing an ethnographic and engaged environmental anthropology’, American Anthropologist, vol. 107, no. 4, pp. 632–642.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Victoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations