Keeping Nuclear Memories Alive
Special Reports

Keeping Nuclear Memories Alive

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In this essay, Brooke Takala explores how Pacific Island oral histories are intertwined with global hibakusha legacies that undoubtedly underpin current international disarmament efforts. The origin of the anti-nuclear movement is largely attributed to Japanese mothers who, after the heinous bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, went house to house to gather upwards of 4 million signatures denouncing nuclear weapons as a threat to our collective future. However, it was Pacific Islanders who led the charge against nuclear imperialism through a lens of decolonisation, to lay the foundation for disarmament policy – a history that is seemingly forgotten in the context of prevailing nuclear activism and advocacy agendas. This essay serves as a reminder of our shared historical trajectory and impacts of legacy radiation, and to encourage younger generations to engage with both science and history as we collectively anchor discourse in nuclear policy and security debates through a humanitarian lens. Now, more than ever, voices from the Pacific must weave together the scientific facts of ionising radiation with the truths of our histories, our present, and our futures.

This essay was produced as part of a project on Nuclear Disarmament and the Anthropocene: Voices from Pacific Island Countries, sponsored by Ploughshares Fund.

About the Author

Brooke Takala is a Marshallese national and independent scholar with a background in Ethnic Studies and Education. Her policy work centres on the continued impacts of colonisation and nuclear imperialism including internal displacement, family violence, food sovereignty, and international humanitarian law. Brooke is a former Campus Lecturer and Regional Scholar at the University of the South Pacific, the former Secretary General of the Marshall Islands Red Cross Society, a founder and co-coordinator of an Enewetak-based community organisation, a children’s book author, and, most importantly, a mother. Brooke is based in Majuro.

Disclaimer: The opinions articulated above represent the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Asia-Pacific Leadership Network or any of its members. The APLN’s website is a source of authoritative research and analysis and serves as a platform for debate and discussion among our senior network members, experts and practitioners, as well as the next generation of policymakers, analysts and advocates. Comments and responses can be emailed to

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