The Nuclear Borderlands explores the sociocultural
fallout of twentieth-century America's premier technoscientific
project--the atomic bomb. Joseph Masco offers the first
anthropological study of the long-term consequences of the
Manhattan Project for the people that live in and around Los
Alamos, New Mexico, where the first atomic bomb, and the majority
of weapons in the current U.S. nuclear arsenal, were designed.
Masco examines how diverse groups--weapons scientists at Los Alamos
National Laboratory, neighboring Pueblo Indian Nations and
Nuevomexicano communities, and antinuclear activists--have engaged
the U.S. nuclear weapons project in the post-Cold War period,
mobilizing to debate and redefine what constitutes "national
In a pathbreaking ethnographic analysis, Masco argues that the
U.S. focus on potential nuclear apocalypse during the Cold War
obscured the broader effects of the nuclear complex on American
society. The atomic bomb, he demonstrates, is not just the engine
of American technoscientific modernity; it has produced a new
cognitive orientation toward everyday life, provoking
cross-cultural experiences of what Masco calls a "nuclear uncanny."
Revealing how the bomb has reconfigured concepts of time, nature,
race, and citizenship, the book provides new theoretical
perspectives on the origin and logic of U.S. national security
culture. The Nuclear Borderlands ultimately assesses the
efforts of the nuclear security state to reinvent itself in a
post-Cold War world, and in so doing exposes the nuclear logic
supporting the twenty-first-century U.S. war on terrorism.
Subjects: History, Anthropology
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