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Nuclear Rites: Weapons Laboratory at the End of the Cold War

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Nuclear Rites: Weapons Laboratory at the End of the Cold War Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Based on fieldwork at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory—the facility that designed the neutron bomb and the warhead for the MX missile—Nuclear Rites takes the reader deep inside the top-secret culture of a nuclear weapons lab. Exploring the scientists' world of dark humor, ritualized secrecy, and disciplined emotions, anthropologist Hugh Gusterson uncovers the beliefs and values that animate their work. He discovers that many of the scientists are Christians, deeply convinced of the morality of their work, and a number are liberals who opposed the Vietnam War and the Reagan-Bush agenda. Gusterson also examines the anti-nuclear movement, concluding that the scientists and protesters are alike in surprising ways, with both cultures reflecting the hopes and anxieties of an increasingly threatened middle class.

In a lively, wide-ranging account, Gusterson analyzes the ethics and politics of laboratory employees, the effects of security regulations on the scientists' private lives, and the role of nuclear tests—beyond the obvious scientific one—as rituals of initiation and transcendence. He shows how the scientists learn to identify in an almost romantic way with the power of the machines they design—machines they do not fear.

In the 1980s the "world behind the fence" was thrown into crisis by massive anti-nuclear protests at the gates of the lab and by the end of the Cold War. Linking the emergence of the anti-nuclear movement to shifting gender roles and the development of postindustrial capitalism, Gusterson concludes that the scientists and protesters are alike in surprising ways, and that both cultures reflect the hopes and anxieties of an increasingly threatened middle class.

Synopsis:

"An extremely important work. . . . It demonstrates the power that ethnographic analysis can have when directed at an examination of our own society's central nervous system."—Faye Ginsburg, author of Contested Lives

"Essential reading for anyone trying to understand what Cold War science was in all its cultural aspects and what this same science now in transformation might yet be."—George E. Marcus, co-editor of The Traffic in Culture

About the Author

Hugh Gusterson is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Science Studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780520213739
Author:
Gusterson, Hugh
Publisher:
University of California Press
Subject:
History
Subject:
Anthropology - Cultural
Subject:
Modern - 20th Century/Nuclear Age
Subject:
Nuclear weapons
Subject:
World History-1650 to Present
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
19980231
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
392
Dimensions:
9 x 6 x 1 in 17 oz

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Anthropology » Cultural Anthropology
History and Social Science » Anthropology » General
History and Social Science » Politics » Activism and Peace Studies
History and Social Science » Politics » Covert Government and Conspiracy Theory
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » Sociology » General
History and Social Science » World History » 1650 to Present
Reference » Science Reference » General
Reference » Science Reference » Technology
Science and Mathematics » History of Science » General

Nuclear Rites: Weapons Laboratory at the End of the Cold War Used Trade Paper
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Product details 392 pages University of California Press - English 9780520213739 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,
"An extremely important work. . . . It demonstrates the power that ethnographic analysis can have when directed at an examination of our own society's central nervous system."—Faye Ginsburg, author of Contested Lives

"Essential reading for anyone trying to understand what Cold War science was in all its cultural aspects and what this same science now in transformation might yet be."—George E. Marcus, co-editor of The Traffic in Culture

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