'Why haven't you known?' Transoceanic solidarity and the politics of knowledge in feminist anti-nuclear activism

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This paper critically examines the character and extent of transoceanic solidarity in feminist anti-nuclear activism. Drawing on archival research into a British-based solidarity network, Women Working for a Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific (WWNFIP), the paper centralises the rhetorical question ‘Why Haven’t You Known?’ demanded by Māori activist Titewhai Harawira of her British audience in 1986, and extends it to contemporary scholars of feminist anti-nuclear activism. The paper makes three main empirical claims. First the WWNFIP archive pulls Indigenous women from across the Pacific into the limelight as experts and teachers, with British-based counterparts playing a supportive role. Second, the archive foregrounds Indigenous knowledge-claims about nuclear colonialism and correspondingly represents decolonisation as essential to nuclear abolition. Thirdly, solidarity is shown to be driven by knowledge claims that shape both sisterly closeness but also necessarily provoke the discomfort of potential white allies. Overall, the WWNFIP’s relatively successful construction of transoceanic solidarity, notwithstanding some ambiguities and limitations, points to the crucial relationship between knowledge and solidarity. The case study not only offers some valuable lessons for contemporary efforts to forge anti-nuclear solidarities but also disrupts dominant accounts of feminist anti-nuclear activism, past and present.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalZeitschrift für Friedens- und Konfliktforschung/ ZeFKo Studies in Peace and Conflict
Early online date23 Feb 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Feb 2023


  • anti nuclear activism
  • feminism
  • abolition of nuclear weapons


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