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Gabrielle Hecht

Gabrielle Hecht

Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
Frank Stanton Foundation Professor of Nuclear Security
Professor, History

Stanford University
Encina Hall, E204
Stanford, CA 94305-6165

Research Interests

Anthropocene | Nuclear history & anthropology | Environmental & human security | African history & anthropology (especially South Africa, Namibia, Gabon) | Radioactive & toxic waste


Gabrielle Hecht is the Frank Stanton Foundation Professor of Nuclear Security at the Center for International Security and Cooperation, Professor of History, and Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute.

Hecht has written two books on nuclear topics. Being Nuclear: Africans and the Global Uranium Trade (2012) offers new perspectives on the global nuclear order by focusing on African uranium mines and miners. It received the Rachel Carson prize from the Society for the Social Studies of Science, the Martin Klein prize in African history from the American Historical Association, the Robert Merton prize from the American Sociological Association, and the Suzanne M. Glasscock Humanities book prize, as well as an honorable mention for the Herskovits award from the African Studies Association. An abridged version appeared in French as Uranium Africain, une histoire globale (Le Seuil 2016). Hecht’s first book, The Radiance of France: Nuclear Power and National Identity (MIT Press 1998, 2nd edition 2009), explores how the French embedded nuclear policy in reactor technology, and nuclear culture in reactor operations. It received awards from the American Historical Association and the Society for the History of Technology, and has appeared in French as Le rayonnement de la France: Énergie nucléaire et identité nationale après la seconde guerre mondiale (La Découverte 2004; Éditions Amsterdam 2014).

Hecht is currently writing a series of essays on radioactive and other forms of waste, currently titled Toxic Tales from the African Anthropocene. The first of these have appeared in Cultural Anthropology, Aeon, and Somatosphere

Hecht taught in Stanford’s History department at the beginning of her academic career. Before returning in 2017, she taught at the University of Michigan’s History department. She helped to found and direct UM’s Program in Science, Technology, and Society (STS), and served as associate director of the African Studies Center there. She remains an active participant in UM’s collaborative project with the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (South Africa) on Joining Theory and Empiricism in the remaking of the African Humanities. Hecht has supervised dissertations in nuclear studies, STS, African history and anthropology, and French history.

Gabrielle Hecht holds a PhD in History and Sociology of Science from the University of Pennsylvania (1992), and a bachelor’s degree in Physics from MIT (1986). She’s been a visiting scholar in universities in Australia, France, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, and Sweden. Hecht’s work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council for Learned Societies, and the South African and Dutch national research foundations, among others. She serves on numerous advisory boards, including for the Andra, France’s national radioactive waste management agency.

Many of her publications are available here. To view Dr. Hecht's CAP Profiles, please click here.