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Department of Anthropology


Magdalena E. Stawkowski

Title: Assistant Professor
Department: Anthropology
College of Arts and Sciences
Phone: 803-576-7278

Gambrell Hall, 424

Resources: Curriculum Vitae [pdf]
Personal Website
Magdalena Stawkowski


Magdalena Stawkowski is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology and a faculty associate at the Walker Institute for International Studies. She is also a researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies in Copenhagen and  a fellow in the Center for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Stawkowski received her PhD from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2014. Previously, she was a postdoctoral teaching scholar in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at North Carolina State University. Prior to that, she was a MacArthur Nuclear Security Fellow and a Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) at Stanford University. Her research has been supported by a number of grants, including those from the National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, IREX, the Danish Council for Independent Research, and others.

Research Interests

Cultural and critical medical anthropology, science and technology studies, political economy, bioethics, subjectivity, environmental governance, health disparities and environmental harms, militarized and nuclear spaces, socio-cultural legacies of atomic testing, Cold War science, post-Soviet reforms, Kazakhstan, Central Asia.


Magdalena Stawkowski specializes in cultural and medical anthropology, focusing on militarized and nuclear spaces and the political economy of health. Her current research examines the socio-cultural legacies of Soviet-era nuclear testing in Kazakhstan and how people navigate everyday life in a damaged environment polluted with residual radioactivity. Specifically, her research focuses on the local understandings of health, livelihood, violence, and suffering from the perspective of rural communities affected by the militarization of a region subjected to hundreds of Soviet Cold War nuclear tests. Stawkowski is currently starting a collaborative project that looks at the Anthropocene epoch as the radioactive afterlife of the Cold War. Specifically, this project examines former atomic proving grounds in Kazakhstan, the Marshall Islands, and French Polynesia. She, together with other research scholars from Europe and the United States, critically examine the questions of security, survival, and social fallout in the age of the Anthropocene. Stawkowski’s other interests include science studies, specifically scientific debates about low-dose radiation exposure and radiation research on animals. 


ANTH 102     Understanding Other Cultures

ANTH 280     Humans Going Nuclear: Atomic Bombs, Cold War, and the Fallout

ANTH 292    Disease, Health and Social Inequities

ANTH 396     Toxic Environments and Invisible Harms

ANTH 552     Medical Anthropology

ANTH 703      Anthropological Inquiry (graduate core course)

Representative Publications

forthcoming Stawkowski, Magdalena E. and David Orsini. “Permanence in Ruins: Anthropology and “Post-Cold War” Life.” History & Anthropology.

2023 Stawkowski, Magdalena E. “A Town that Fell Asleep: Malignant Infrastructures of Soviet-era Nuclear Ruins in Kazakhstan.” In Jacob Darwin Hamblin and Lina Marie Richards, eds., Making the Unseen Visible: Science and the Contested Histories of Radiation Exposure. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press.

2022 Stawkowski, Magdalena E. “Manipulative Statecraft: The Disinformation Campaigns and Presidential Powers of Trump and Putin.” In Donna Goldstein and Kristen Drybread, eds., Corruption and Illiberal Politics in the Trump Era, 182-200. Routledge.

Stawkowski, Magdalena E. 2017 “Life on an Atomic Collective: The Post-Soviet Retreat of the State in Rural Kazakhstan.” Études Rurales. 200(2):196-219.

Stawkowski, Magdalena E. 2017. “Radiophobia Had to Be Reinvented.” Culture, Theory and Critique. 58(4):357-374, special issue “Invisible Harm.”

Stawkowski, Magdalena E. 2017. “Everyday Radioactive Goods? Economic Development at Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan.” The Journal of Asian Studies. 76(2):423-436, special issue “Catastrophic Asia.”

Stawkowski, Magdalena E. 2016. “I am a Radioactive Mutant”: Emerging Biological Subjectivities at the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site.” American Ethnologist. 43(1):144-157.  

Goldstein, Donna and Magdalena E. Stawkowski. 2015.  “James V. Neel and Yuri E. Dubrova: Cold War Debates and the Genetic Effects of Low-Dose Radiation.” Journal of the History of Biology. 48(1):67-98.

Recent Accomplishments

Stawkowsi, M. (2021). Mutant Encounters: Radioactive Life on the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site in Kazakhstan. Hunter Postdoctoral Fellowship (Wenner-Gren Foundation); $40,000

Collaborator with Rens Van Munster in the Danish Institute for International Studies; Danish Council for Independent Research grant, three year (2019-2021) multi-sited project titled: “Radioactive Ruins: Security in the Age of the Anthropocene,” $893,925.

Recipient of the Soyuz Article Prize that recognizes an outstanding article in postsocialist studies published by a junior scholar: “I am a Radioactive Mutant”: Emerging Biological Subjectivities at the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site.” (2017).

Contributor of an op-ed piece in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: “The Continuing Danger of Semipalatinsk.” (2016).

Award recipient from the anti-nuclear “Nevada-Semipalatinsk” movement in Kazakhstan for outstanding contribution. (2011).

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.