The Future of Fallout, and Other Episodes in Radioactive World-Making

Book Pages: 440 Illustrations: 152 illustrations Published: January 2021

Author: Joseph Masco

American Studies, Anthropology, Science and Technology Studies

In The Future of Fallout, and Other Episodes in Radioactive World-Making Joseph Masco examines the strange American intimacy with and commitment to existential danger. Tracking the simultaneous production of nuclear emergency and climate disruption since 1945, he focuses on the psychosocial accommodations as well as the technological revolutions that have produced these linked planetary-scale disasters. Masco assesses the memory practices, visual culture, concepts of danger, and toxic practices that, in combination, have generated a U.S. national security culture that promises ever more safety and comfort in everyday life but does so only by generating and deferring a vast range of violences into the collective future. Interrogating how this existential lag (i.e., the material and conceptual fallout of the twentieth century in the form of nuclear weapons and petrochemical capitalism) informs life in the twenty-first century, Masco identifies key moments when other futures were still possible and seeks to activate an alternative, postnational security political imaginary in support of collective life today.


“With a rare combination of deep empathy and a sense of the fatally surreal, Joseph Masco's eloquent book takes on the planet-sized problems of nuclear war and climate collapse. What, he asks, makes them twins? Technoscientific consumerism, nuclear nationalism, and petrochemical capitalism together have created a populace without a sense of an alternate, survivable future.” — Catherine Lutz, Thomas J. Watson, Jr. Family Professor of Anthropology and International Studies, Brown University

The Future of Fallout, and Other Episodes in Radioactive World-Making is an exceptionally creative and astute account of the pasts and presents of the U.S. security state. Readers of Joseph Masco's previous work will find much that is new here, most centrally, his sustained engagement with climate change and climate science(s) and their inseparability from the history of the nuclear bomb. Thought-provoking, innovative, and always attuned to the complex relationships between power and knowledge production, this book provides a refreshing antidote to conventional scholarly discussions of (U.S.) security, and invites us to reflect deeply on our contemporary predicaments while holding out the possibility of thinking and acting otherwise.” — Nadia Abu El-Haj, author of The Genealogical Science: The Search for Jewish Origins and the Politics of Epistemology


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Price: $29.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Joseph Masco is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Chicago and author of The Theater of Operations: National Security Affect from the Cold War to the War on Terror, also published by Duke University Press, and The Nuclear Borderlands: The Manhattan Project in Post--Cold War New Mexico.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  vii
Prologue  1
1. Age of Fallout  17
I. Dreaming Deserts and Death Machines
2. 5:29:45 a.m.  45
3. States of Insecurity  51
4. Desert Modernism  83
5. The Billboard Campaign  113
II. Bunkers and Psyches
6. Rehearsing the End  127
7. Life Underground  137
8. Atomic Health  157
9. End of Ends  179
III. Celluloid Nightmares
10. Target Audience  199
11. The Age of (a) Man  219
12. Catastrophe's Apocalypse  237
13. Counterinsurgency, The Spook, and Blowback  265
IV. After Counterrevolution
14. Shaking, Trembling, Shouting  287
15. "Active Measures"  301
16. Boundless Informant  319
17. The Crisis in Crisis  339
Epilogue: An Alternate  363
"What If"
Acknowledgments  371
Notes  37
References  389
Index  415
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-1114-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-1008-1