Energy and Extraction

Desire for the ‘worst’: Extending nuclear attachments in southeastern New Mexico

In the city of Carlsbad, New Mexico, where a deep geological repository named the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant receives regular shipments of military transuranic waste that will remain radioactive for 10,000 years, a group of local actors has been putting major efforts to extend their attachments to nuclear waste futures. In January 2012, Forbes magazine named Carlsbad ‘The Town that Wants America’s Worst Atomic Waste’. Obviously, linking the verb ‘want’ with ‘worst’ is meant to show how unexpected this desire might be. This paper offers an ethnographical account of activities undertaken by their Nuclear Task Force at a peculiar moment. Articulating the relationship between valuation and desiring, it develops the notion of proactive valuation undertakings to refer to local actors’ attempts to generate new attachments and to maintain existing ones through the succession of a series of mediated and equipped valuation undertakings. Rather than approaching desire for waste with scepticism, it follows what ‘desiring’ actors do and how they do it in ‘enterprise form’ and offers a novel, symmetrical and a more comprehensive approach to examine, not only, the co-production of places and techno political orders, but also the constitution of political and moral values at specific sites.

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Volume 38 Issue 4

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