Professor Gabrielle Hecht among those honored with 2023 Guggenheim Fellowships

photo of Gabrielle Hecht

Gabrielle Hecht, STS affiliated faculty, is among three Stanford University scholars who have been awarded 2023 Guggenheim Fellowships. This prestigious honor recognizes mid-career scholars, artists, and scientists who have demonstrated a previous capacity for outstanding work and continue to show exceptional promise. This year’s fellows from Stanford also include Euan Ashley and Abraham Verghese.

Professor Hecht is professor of history in the School of Humanities and Sciences and senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. Her current scholarship explores radioactive residues, mine waste, air pollution, and the Anthropocene in Africa. As a fellow, Hecht will be working on Inside-Out Earth, a book that examines the residues of energy materials and how that waste exacerbates inequalities.

“We are turning our planet inside out. The mass of everything ever made by humans now matches or exceeds the mass of all living things,” said Hecht, who is also the Stanton Foundation Professor of Nuclear Security. “More and more of this anthropogenic mass consists of discarded material, not the least of which are the wastes of industrial energy systems. These wastes produce and exacerbate inequalities, a trend that continues in the so-called ‘energy transition.’ ”

Hecht’s research looks at four different locations, including Chile, the world’s biggest copper producer and home to its largest lithium reserves. “These two materials are essential for the ‘energy transition,’ yet their production depends on fossil fuel plants,” said Hecht. She is also looking at coal in the Arctic, diesel air pollution in urban West Africa, and uranium in South Africa.

Hecht is currently the President of the Society for the History of Technology. Her new book, Residual Governance: How South Africa Foretells Planetary Futures, will be published by Duke University Press in November.