Thesis ID: CBB309521968

Technologies of the Cold War Human: Race, Science, and U.S. Militarism in Asia and the Pacific (2022)


Suzuki, Erin (Advisor)
Streeby, Shelley (Advisor)
Bui, Keva X. (Author)

Suzuki, Erin
Streeby, Shelley
University of California, San Diego
Publication date: 2022
Language: English

Publication Date: 2022
Physical Details: 219

Technologies of the Cold War Human examines the scientific apparatus of the U.S. Cold War military-industrial complex as a racial-meaning making project that deploys race as the raw material of liberal capitalist securitization across Asia and the Pacific. As a global formation of interlocked material and ideological conflicts binding multiple geographies and histories, the Cold War, I contend, is an episteme that defines the “human” as an abstract universalism predicated on the entwined expendability and malleability of Asian and Pacific Islander life. Analyzing central case studies of the nuclear bomb, Agent Orange, and napalm, this dissertation argues that this dialectic of the Cold War human transforms Asian and Pacific Islander human and nonhuman bodies into malleable matter to be destroyed, and remade, in service of imperial expansion. Through literary, visual, and historical analysis, this project revises how we approach the archive of Cold War military science by situating it within longer genealogies of U.S. racial science. I approach an array of cultural texts—including works by Quan Barry, Mai Der Vang, Don Mee Choi, Octavia E. Butler, Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner, Jane Chang Mi, Dinh Q. Le, and Ocean Vuong—as political critiques of war’s imbrication within circuits of knowledge that consolidate racial meaning. While racial science has long been associated with its epistemological work in defining racial hierarchies through biological inferiority, this dissertation argues that Cold War science trafficks in race’s utility in constructing both expendable and assimilable bodies in the consolidation of U.S. global capitalism. In a moment when fantasies of racial liberalism and decolonization across the United States, Asia, and the Pacific begin to take shape, I suggest that a reassessment of the conditions Cold War science reveals racial logics that inhere across human, ecological, and molecular scales of militarization. In doing so, this dissertation charts U.S. militarism not only through its empire of bases and battlegrounds, but through material and metaphorical laboratories of race- and war-making that proliferate across zones of occupation and war in Asia and the Pacific.

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Authors & Contributors
Ahuja, Neel
Amadae, S. M.
Briggs, Laura J.
Cullather, Nick B.
Doel, Ronald E.
Friedman, Robert Marc
Centaurus: International Magazine of the History of Mathematics, Science, and Technology
Cold War History
Business History Review
Journal of Historical Geography
Peace and Change: A Journal of Peace Research
Physics in Perspective
Cambridge University Press
Yale University
Columbia University
Duke University Press
Harvard University Press
Overlook Press
Cold War
Science and war; science and the military
Nuclear weapons; atomic weapons
Science and politics
Cross-national interaction
Science and race
Christofilos, Nicholas Constantine
Jobs, Steve
Khruschchev, Nikita Sergeyevich
Noyce, Robert
Time Periods
20th century
20th century, late
19th century
21st century
United States
Soviet Union
Strategic Defense Initiative
RAND Corporation

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