University of Connecticut

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Geography Colloquium - Patrick Vitale

Friday, September 14, 2018
12:20pm – 1:10pm

Storrs Campus
AUST 434

Nuclear Suburbs: Learning to live with the military-industrial complex in suburban Pittsburgh.

Patrick Vitale, Eastern Connecticut State University In the post-war decades, there was a convergence between the growing prominence of scientists and engineers; widespread, but predominantly white suburbanization; the growth of the military-industrial complex; and the United States exertion of greater military, economic, and political control around the world. The state's two great post-war projects, the residential suburb and the military-industrial complex, shared more than just a location. Using the example of Pittsburgh's Bettis Atomic Laboratory and the suburbs that housed its employees, this paper explores the convergence between suburbs, science and engineering, and war making and how it was (re)produced in the everyday lives of scientists and engineers. By examining the space of the suburb, I argue that nuclear engineers and scientists normalized a division between peace and violence in their everyday lives. In doing so they obscured the violence that resulted from their work and that created the exclusive communities where they lived. During the Cold War, defense contractors, the state, and scientists and engineers not only produced weapons, but also a classed, racial, and gendered formation whose power was rooted in segregated suburbs. Violence and misery not only resulted from these engineers and scientists' work, but also from the production of communities that helped reproduce their power and privilege.


Geography Department (primary), Anthropology Department, Center for Environmental Science and Engineering, History Department, Political Science, UConn Master Calendar

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