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The Contours of America’s Cold War

2010
Author:

Matthew Farish

The Contours of America’s Cold War

How new ideas of space contributed to a broad mobilization of American power

In The Contours of America’s Cold War, Matthew Farish explores new ways of conceptualizing space as part of post–World War II American militarism. He demonstrates how the social sciences were militarized in the early Cold War period, producing spatial knowledge that was of immediate use to the state as it sought to expand its reach across the globe.

The Contours of America's Cold War offers a vital new contribution to American studies. Matthew Farish shows how the geopolitics of the Cold War required a new cartography, producing a wide-ranging transformation in how Americans understood urban, national, and planetary space. It breaks new ground in showing how the human sciences were militarized under the logics of global threat during the early Cold War. Essential reading for anyone investigating the deep roots of American militarism or the spatial contours of our modern world.

Joseph Masco, University of Chicago

In The Contours of America’s Cold War, Matthew Farish explores new ways of conceptualizing space as part of post–World War II American militarism. He demonstrates how the social sciences were militarized in the early Cold War period, producing spatial knowledge that was of immediate use to the state as it sought to expand its reach across the globe.

Geographic knowledge generated for the Cold War was a form of power, Farish argues, and it was given an urgency in the panels, advisory boards, and study groups established to address the challenges of an atomic world. He investigates how the scales of the city, the continent, the region, the globe, and, by extension, outer space were brought together as strategic spaces, categories that provided a cartographic orientation for the Cold War and influenced military deployments, diplomacy, espionage, and finance.

Farish analyzes the surprising range of knowledge production involved in the project of claiming and classifying American space. Backed by military and intelligence funding, physicists and policy makers, soldiers and social scientists came together to study and shape the United States and its place in a divided world.

The Contours of America’s Cold War

Matthew Farish is assistant professor of geography at the University of Toronto.

The Contours of America’s Cold War

The Contours of America's Cold War offers a vital new contribution to American studies. Matthew Farish shows how the geopolitics of the Cold War required a new cartography, producing a wide-ranging transformation in how Americans understood urban, national, and planetary space. It breaks new ground in showing how the human sciences were militarized under the logics of global threat during the early Cold War. Essential reading for anyone investigating the deep roots of American militarism or the spatial contours of our modern world.

Joseph Masco, University of Chicago

The Contours of America’s Cold War is an outstanding book directed at understanding the varied geographical underpinnings of the conduct of the Cold War in the U.S. context from 1945 to 1960. Farish addresses the global, national, laboratory/think tank, and urban dimensions of how the Cold War created a new American socio-political consciousness that has not yet been left behind.

John Agnew, UCLA

This is among the best contextual, critical histories of geographical knowledge yet produced.

Environment and Planning A

For aficionados of the Cold War unfamiliar with its geographical making this book is indispensible. For geographers, historians, and political scientists interested in the Cold War it will be revealing in different ways. Imaginatively illustrated, its mapping of the military/cultural ‘contours of America’s Cold War’ invites engagement with the contemporaneous class struggle and anti-colonial movements.

Society and Space

The book is wide-ranging and informative. The book should be of interest to a range of American historians concerned with the Cold War, science and technology, and popular culture. They will appreciate its spirited and insightful commentaries on the militarization of geographical thinking and other aspects of American society and culture during the early Cold War.

Journal of American History

This book offers a well-researched endeavor in understanding the Cold War through a geographical perspective. The Contours of America’s Cold War is an outstanding work detailing the origins and proliferations of American militarism during the Cold War era, and Farish is to be commended on his exhaustive and intricate archival research.

Historical Geography

Farish’s readers will find the work’s breadth rewarding, for it offers a clear picture of the astonishing reach of Cold War geographical knowledge.

ISIS

The Contours of America’s Cold War

Contents


Introduction: A History of Cold War Spaces

1. Global Views: Geopolitics, Science, and Culture

2. Regional Intelligence: The Militarization of Geographical Knowledge

3. Illuminating the Terrain: Social Science Finds Its Targets

4. The Cybernetic Continent: North America as Defense Laboratory

5. Anxious Urbanism: Strategies for the Atomic City

Conclusion: Into Space


Acknowledgments
Notes
Publication History
Index