Kuletz, Valerie L.
KULETZ, Valerie L.
University of Canterbury, New Zealand, American studies lecturer.
Boguslav Technology and Humanism Award, American Sociological Association, 1997.
The Tainted Desert: Environmental Ruin in the American West, Routledge (New York, NY), 1998.
The daughter of a weapons scientist at China Lake Naval Weapons Center in the Mojave Desert, Valerie L. Kuletz is intimately familiar with the deserts of the American Southwest and the impact that the U.S. government has had on the region. This was the genesis of her Ph.D. dissertation, which she expanded into a full-length book, The Tainted Desert: Environmental Ruin in the American West. In the book, Kuletz "blasts the idea of using the West as a dumping ground for nuclear waste," according to Rocky Mountain News reviewer C. W. Buchholtz. In describing the controversy over storing nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain, Nevada, Kuletz discusses the very different attitudes of government planners who see the desert as unpopulated wasteland, and the Native American populations who revere it and who are suffering rising rates of cancer and birth defects near testing sites. "Kuletz is better than most in explaining the effect of cultural assumptions on interactions between peoples and between people and the land," remarked a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Not that Kuletz is a neutral observer; throughout the book, it's clear where her sympathies lie. "The author's strongly polemic approach to the issues will likely offend or irritate many readers," noted Journal of Cultural Geography contributor Joe Weber. Still, "Kuletz makes visible the human cost of nuclear development and testing and raises the lid on the pressing issue of waste storage," commented Booklist reviewer Grace Fill.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, April 15, 1998, Grace Fill, review of The Tainted Desert: Environmental Ruin in the American West, p. 1400.
Journal of Cultural Geography, fall-winter, 2001, Joe Weber, review of The Tainted Desert, p. 127.
Publishers Weekly, March 30, 1998, review of The Tainted Desert, p. 63.
Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO), July 27, 1998, C. W. Buchholtz, "Anti-Nuclear Insider's Passion May Be Wasted," p. 6D.*