You may browse the Atlas by following the curated "paths" of information and interpretation provided by the editors. These paths roughly track the movement of radioactive materials from the earth, into weapons or energy sources, and then into unmanageable waste—along with the environmental, social, technical, and ethical ramifications of these processes. In addition to the stages of the production process, you may view in sequence the positivist, technocratic version of this story, or the often hidden or repressed shadow side to the industrial processing of nuclear materials.
Using the buttons on the left, you may also browse the Atlas's artworks and scholarly essays, access geolocated material on a map, and learn more about contributors to the project.
If you would like to contribute materials to the Atlas, please reach out to the editors: Sarah Kanouse (s.kanouse at northeastern.edu) and Shiloh Krupar (srk34 at georgetown.edu).
Cover Image by Shanna Merola, "An Invisible Yet Highly Energetic Form of Light," from Nuclear Winter. Atlas design by Byse.
Funded by grants from Georgetown University and Northeastern University. Initial release September 2021.
The economic, political, and spiritual effects of the military-industrial complex that so concerned Eisenhower also had spatial and temporal dimensions. Traditionally, “mobilization” and “deployment” referred to distinct phases of readying troops and technology for armed conflict. Mobilization involves the activation or conscription of military personnel and infrastructures, while deployment refers to the movement of troops and armaments into a given “field of operations.” While this neatly phased process may describe the experience of a given soldier or a single type of weapon, it does not adequately describe the Cold War, where mobilization and deployment coexisted over decades and continue into the present day. Both nuclear and conventional weapons became ever more complex, requiring tens of thousands of parts produced in highly specialized facilities. Such intricate supply chains meant that nearly every Congressperson had constituents whose jobs depended on military spending. Moreover, the siting of ICBM missile silos across the U.S. Great Plains—each one supported by village-like launch control facilities and air force bases that functioned like small cities—further blurred the lines between “home front” and “front lines.” Project Plowshares—a series of tests designed to evaluate the use of nuclear devices in construction and mining—sought to alleviate public anxiety over living with nuclear weapons. However, civil defense drills rehearsed in schools, hospitals, and workplaces, and the designation of public buildings as neighborhood fallout shelters, served as constant reminders that nuclear “field of operations” was potentially everywhere on (and even in) the earth.
The “Deployment” and “Mobilization” paths explore the ways that nuclear weapons scramble conventional distinctions between the two phases. Each path contains the same training and deployment sites, but they are contextualized by different essays and issue briefs. Toggle back and forth between deployment and mobilization for a more complex and nuanced picture of how militarization shaped landscapes, lives, and beliefs in Colorado and beyond.