Tinkering with Armageddon

Hugh Gusterson, Professor, Department of Anthropology and International Affairs, George Washington University

Colloquium, The School for Advanced Research, 660 Garcia Street, Santa Fe

Wednesday, July 13, 2016, 12:00–1:00 pm, Free

When Dr. Gusterson began studying nuclear weapons scientists as an anthropologist, nuclear testing was their core practice.  They relied on nuclear testing to perfect new weapons, to apprentice new weapons scientists, and to bring together the different divisions at the weapons labs.  The U.S. has not tested a nuclear weapon since 1992, and has pledged that it will not do so.  Yet it maintains about 7,000 nuclear weapons.  Based on interviews at the weapons labs and in Washington DC, this talk asks why the U.S. decided to give up nuclear testing and how the weapons labs developed a new organizational culture to replace one grounded in nuclear testing.  And it asks the ultimate question: how can we be sure the weapons still work if we cannot test them?

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