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

By Collman, Jeff | Anthropological Quarterly, July 1997 | Go to article overview

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


Collman, Jeff, Anthropological Quarterly


Nuclear Rites: A Weapons Laboratory at the End of the Cold War. HUGH GUSTERSON. Berkeley: University of California, 1996; 351 pp.

Hugh Gusterson's Nuclear rites: A weapons laboratory at the end of the Cold War, an anthropological study of the Lawrence Livermore nuclear weapons design laboratory in California, tells fascinating stories relevant to the sociologies of science and technology, social movements, bureaucracy, adult socialization, and legitimization. Drawing extensively from postmodern and orthodox social theories, Gusterson amply demonstrates the power of anthropological investigation and analysis for the interpretation of North American and European society. Although the secrecy enshrouding weapons research limited Gusterson's access to certain types of information, shortages of data that should have been available and presented render less forceful some dimensions of the analysis. Nuclear rites should provoke great discussion in undergraduate and graduate courses about the ethics and consequences of the science and technology industries.

According to Gusterson, accepting the necessity of designing ever more powerful nuclear weapons depends upon believing the theory of ddtente. The greater the destructive power of nuclear weapons and the sturdier the dynamic equilibrium between contending forces, the less likely nuclear weapons would ever be used. Nuclear weapons designers think of themselves as peacemakers, not warmongers, like the MX missile they built. No simple social or psychological factors explain how weapons scientists come to accept the doctrine of ddtente. Weapons scientists do not profess uniform political or religious creeds. Although most weapons scientists are male, many women sustain weapons research through other kinds of work. Learning to accept detente is part of becoming socialized and developing a career as a nuclear weapons designer, processes emergent from actually working on weapons design. Security clearance procedures function as important devices for legitimating detente because they outwardly identify individual scientists' own identities with the laboratory's central mission. As weapons scientists' clearances rise, the scientists move from the periphery to the center of the lab's work in a process mirroring their career development. Participating in the live test of a nuclear device of their own design culminates and redefines the careers of nuclear weapons designers by initiating them into the most exclusive echelon of this elite cult.

Gusterson juxtaposes the experiences of nuclear weapons scientists and anti-nuclear activists and explicitly cites dilemmas emergent from his personal participation in both social worlds. In the most compelling parts of this book, Gusterson explains how members of these two, often opposed communities develop commitment by melding body with mind in specific "bodily disciplines. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

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

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.