Vincent Ialenti



Vincent Ialenti is an anthropologist who studies the culture of nuclear energy and weapons waste organizations. He currently works at the U.S. Department of Energy, advising senior leadership on efforts to implement more democratic, environmentally just, consent-based approaches to siting nuclear waste facilities. His recent book, Deep Time Reckoning (MIT Press), is an ethnographic study of how Finland’s nuclear waste repository “safety case” experts grappled with distant future ecosystems and the limits of knowledge. He has also conducted an ethnographic study of the technopolitical, financial, and temporal drivers behind U.S. nuclear weapons waste "drum breach" accidents in Idaho and New Mexico. Vincent has been on the research faculty at George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs and has held fellowships at the University of Southern California, the University of British Columbia, and Cornell's Society for the Humanities. His research has been supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and The Berggruen Institute. His work has been featured by the BBC, Scientific American, NPR, Science, Forbes, and Public Radio International. Vincent received his PhD in Sociocultural Anthropology from Cornell in 2017.

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Selected Publications

2022. “Boiling Sand, Metallic Fire: Technopolitics & Temporal Form in an Idaho Nuclear Waste Accident.” American Ethnologist 49(3).

2021. “Drum Breach: Error Politics, Operational Temporalities, and WIPP’s Kitty Litter Nuclear Waste Accident.” Social Studies of Science 51(3).

2021. “Mankala Chronicles: Nuclear Energy Financing & Cooperative Corporate Form in Finland.” Nuclear Technology: Journal of The American Nuclear Society 207(9).

2021. "Delving Into Deep Time." Nature Geosciences 14.

2020. Deep Time Reckoning. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

2020. “Specters of Seppo: The Afterlives of Finland’s Nuclear Waste Experts.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 26(2).

2019. “Alter-Ecologies: Envisioning Papal & Ecomodernist Nuclear Energy Policy Futures.” In Care for the World: Laudato Si & Catholic Social Thought in an Era of Climate Crisis (ed. Frank Pasquale). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

2018. “Waste Makes Haste: How a Campaign to Speed up Nuclear Waste Shipments Shut Down the WIPP Long-Term Repository.” The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 74(4).

2017. “Death & Succession Among Finland’s Nuclear Waste Experts.” Physics Today 70(10).

2014. “Adjudicating Deep Time: Revisiting the United States’ High-Level Nuclear Waste Repository Project at Yucca Mountain.” Science & Technology Studies 27(2).