Book Analysis: The Nuclear Borderlands

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The Nuclear Borderlands Abstract
Masco’s The Nuclear Borderlands offers an anthropological perspective on the psychosocial effects of the atomic bomb, the most influential techno-scientific project of the twentieth century. New forms of social consciousness, ideas of international order, mutant ecologies, and schemes of the psychosocial imaginary were created, transforming everyday life within a fresh articulation of the global and the local. Masco investigates the consequences of nuclear weapons by closely examining the different parties involved – the Los Alamos weapons scientists, the neighboring Pueblo and “nuevomexicano” communities, antinuclear protestors, the contaminated environment itself, and the U.S. government. In analyzing their different perspectives, Masco highlights the underlying ironies, in what he calls the “nuclear uncanny” – how a weapon of mass destruction can also be considered a beautiful techno-aesthetic work of art, how Los Alamos is both a radioactive polluter but also one of the only means of steady employment for the surrounding communities, how an obsessive focus on the imaginary threat of a nuclear apocalypse fueled a national fetish for a toxic atomic arms race. In discussing the limited access of nuclear knowledge, and drawing parallels to U.S. colonization of its own people, Masco is able to bring up questions about how the U.S. view its own citizens. Ultimately, Masco applies the analysis forwardly to U.S. national security policies in the post-cold war period and on to its logic in regard to the twenty-first century war on terror. Research Questions

1. How did the Manhattan Project affect both the local communities and the national public sphere and its policies? 2. How do the developments at Los Alamos provoke broader, national sociocultural experiences – including individual concepts of time, space, nature, race, and self-identity? 3. What are the ironies, contradictions, double natures, hidden truths, and...
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