Masco, Joseph P. 1964-
Masco, Joseph P. 1964-
University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, assistant professor of anthropology and social sciences.
National Endowment for the Humanities, resident scholar, 2004-05; cowinner, Robert K. Merton Prize, Section on Science, Knowledge and Technology, American Sociology Association, 2006.
Contributor to various journals, including Radical History Review, Cultural Anthropology, and American Ethnologist.
Joseph P. Masco is an anthropologist and an expert on numerous subjects relating to national security and nuclear politics. He earned his doctoral degree at the University of California at San Diego in 1999, then went on to teach, settling at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois, where he is an assistant professor of anthropology and social sciences. His primary areas of academic and research interest include the roles of science and technology in the social sphere, mass media, critical theory, political ecology, national security and the use of nuclear technology as related to national security and to the nation's political agenda. He has written for a number of academic and professional journals, including Radical History Review, Cultural Anthropology, and American Ethnologist. He is also the author of the book The Nuclear Borderlands: The Manhattan Project in Post-Cold War New Mexico, which was published by the Princeton University Press in 2006.
In The Nuclear Borderlands, Masco takes a long hard look at the long-term effects of the development of nuclear weapons at Los Alamos, New Mexico. He addresses both those directly involved in the experiments and those simply living with the results, both cultural and environmental as well as technological and scientific. Masco structures the book around various groups, looking individually at local communities, the nearby Pueblo nations, scientists working on the actual weaponry, and activists who were against the development of nuclear technology, considering how each group fared both during the 1940s and after the eventual success of the weapons experiments. Ultimately, more nuclear weapons were actually exploded on U.S. soil over the course of these experiments than were detonated in any other nation, whether as active weapons or in accidents or further experiments, creating an excessive amount of fallout radiation as well as other issues. Masco also looks at the ways in which U.S. policies regarding these nuclear experiments colored the attitudes of the nation and the government regarding nuclear power in general. David Kaiser, in a review for the American Scientist, commented that "Masco's important and impressive study ably demonstrates that nuclear weapons need not be detonated to have profound effects—effects that extend far beyond the well-studied realms of politics and international relations." A reviewer for the Savage Minds Web site commented that "Masco's book should give us a way to make sense of something that is far too close to everyone to miss, and yet all too often ignored."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Scientist, January 1, 2007, David Kaiser, "In the Shadow of Los Alamos," p. 85.
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, July 1, 2007, "The Atomic Psyche," p. 66.
SciTech Book News, September, 2006, review of The Nuclear Borderlands: The Manhattan Project in Post-Cold War New Mexico.
Savage Minds Web site,http://savageminds.org/ (June 26, 2007), "Joseph Masco's Nuclear Secrets."
University of Chicago Department of Anthropology Web site,http://anthropology.uchicago.edu/ (February 16, 2008), faculty profile.