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The Politics of Uranium in Tanzania – The Making of a Resource?

Patrick Schukalla

Since the very beginning of the nuclear fuel chain, African localities have been involved as a source of uranium, the chemical element which is the main basic substance for any atomic program.
Even today, after the events in Fukushima, the discussions on quitting nuclear power production in some countries e.g. in Germany and the simultaneous rise of a debate on a supposed “nuclear renaissance”, the importance of African uranium for the production of “nuclear things” and therefore global energy politics is still not adequately analysed.
Following the re-emerging interest in the study of resources and trajectories of their extraction, this project aims to frame its empirical field as a conjunction of the “social”, the “technical” and the “material” within an assemblage of Tanzanian uranium in the process of becoming a resource.
Even though uranium deposits in Tanzania were already identified in the 1950s prior to independence, it was not until the late 1990s that the commercial interest to explore them arose. Until today, the Tanzanian government has issued about twenty exploration licenses regulating the outset of uranium mining with more than a dozen companies involved. The Tanzania Atomic Energy Commission was established in 2003 to explore efforts to further their involvement in the nuclear business.
The project shall highlight the discursive, technological and social practices in a set of conflicting rationalities of resource making and usage.