A People’s Atlas of the Nuclear United States

Banners for Candelas Housing Development

“A People’s Atlas of the Nuclear United States” is a digital public humanities project that documents and interprets the relational geographies of nuclear materials used by the United States military. The Atlas is structured to articulate scalar relationships – from the planetary to the corporeal – and to simultaneously present cartographic, textual and image-based information in order to foster active interpretation on the part of its users.

The pilot phase of the online project focuses on the state of Colorado, which contains sites and processes representing all stages of the nuclear cycle.  Through the initial geographic lens of Colorado, the Atlas seeks to infuse nuclear public policy and public memory discussions with humanistic forms of inquiry that address the materiality of nuclear production,  political history, and environmental ethics. More than another clickable map, the Atlas articulates and interprets local embodied experiences, regional material-environmental politics, and their global and intergenerational consequences, thereby making visible what remains a hidden legacy not only of environmental devastation but also of community resilience.

The multiple functions of the Atlas are inherently interdisciplinary and call for collaboration among scholars, designers, digital humanists, and environmental and community organizations. Questions traditionally bound to specific disciplines are better answered using a broad set of lenses: How can geographical and historical inquiry into the nuclear weapons complex precipitate new insights into the relationships between location, security, harm, intervention, and public action? How can methods developed by geographers, artists, and digital humanists stimulate public memory work that is both more engaging and more nuanced? What forms of interactivity, interface, and representation allow stakeholders and scholars to collaboratively address the past and future of nuclear sites?

The project will use the Scalar publishing platform created by the Alliance for Networking Visual Culture based at USC, with a custom interface design. It is also supported organizationally by NuLab: The Center for Maps, Texts, and Networks at Northeastern University.

Download full project description as PDF: PeoplesAtlasProposal.pdf

Credit

Sarah Kanouse and Shiloh Krupar, A People’s Atlas of the Nuclear United States, in progress

Diagrams

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Interface Sketch