Gabrielle Hecht

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

Hecht’s most recent monograph, Being Nuclear: Africans and the Global Uranium Trade (MIT Press and Wits University Press, 2012) explores Africa’s place in the nuclear world, focusing on uranium mines and miners in Gabon, Madagascar, Niger, Namibia, and South Africa. Among other awards, it received the Martin Klein Prize in African history and was shortlisted for the African Studies Association’s Herskovits prize. An abridged version appeared in French as Uranium Africain, une histoire globale (Le Seuil, 2016). Other books include The Radiance of France: Nuclear Power and National Identity (MIT Press 1998, 2nd edition 2009) and the edited collection Entangled Geographies: Empire and Technopolitics in the Global Cold War (MIT Press, 2011).

Gabrielle Hecht taught in Stanford’s History department at the beginning of her academic career. Before returning in 2017, she was a member of University of Michigan’s History department for eighteen years. She served as associate director of UM's African Studies Center and remains an active participant in its 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. She is co-editor of the latest publication to emerge from this collaboration, a series of short essays on Toxicity, Waste and Detritus in the Global South: Africa and Beyond, appearing weekly in Somatosphere.
She is currently writing a series of essays on radioactive and other forms of waste, tentatively titled Toxic Tales from the African Anthropocene. She is also beginning a book on technology and power in Africa, under contract to Cambridge University Press.

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 has been interviewed for several documentary films, as well as by print and broadcast media in North America, Europe, and Africa.


(650) 725-5369
200-238 and Encina E204
Research Interest(s)
African Anthropocene, Technology In Colonial And Postcolonial Settings, Labor History And Anthropology, Environmental Governance, Toxic Waste, Resource Extraction And Commodity Capitalism, Science And Technology Studies, Discard Studies.