This case study describes the role an applied anthropologist takes to help Marshallese communities understand the impact of radiation exposure on the environment and themselves, and addresses problems stemming from the U.S. nuclear weapons testing program conducted in the Marshall Islands from 1946-1958. The author demonstrates how the U.S. Government limits its responsibilities for dealing with the problems it created in the Marshall Islands. Through archival, life history, and ethgraphic research, the author constructs a compelling history of the testing program from a Marshallese perspective. For more than five decades, the Marshallese have experienced the effects of the weapons testing program on their health and their environment. This book amplifies the voice of the Marshallese who share their kwledge about illnesses, premature deaths, and exile from their homelands. The author uses linguistic analysis to show how the Marshallese developed a unique radiation language to discuss problems related to their radiation exposure problems that never existed before the testing program. Drawing on her own experiences working with the government of the Marshall Islands, the author emphasizes the role of an applied anthropologist in influencing policy, and empowering community leaders to seek meaningful remedies.
Holly M. Barker began her work with the Marshallese when she served as a Peace Corps volunteer from 1988 to 1990 on Mili Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). After a brief stint with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill, Holly joined the RMI's embassy in Washington, D.C., where she was employed until 2008. While working full-time at the embassy in Washington, D.C., Holly earned an M.A. in Education and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from American University. Holly has represented the RMI at community, national, bilateral, and international forums, including conferences at the United Nations on such topics such as the extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. She currently resides with her family in Seattle, Washington, and is a full-time lecturer in the Anthropology Department at the University of Washington.