Joseph P. Masco


Contact Information

Office: Haskell 201
Phone: (773) 834-7807
Website: n/a

(PhD, UC San Diego 1999) Professor of Anthropology and of the Social Sciences in the College writes and teaches courses on science and technology, U.S. national security culture, political ecology, mass media, and critical theory. He is the author of The Nuclear Borderlands: The Manhattan Project in Post-Cold War New Mexico (Princeton University Press, 2006), which won the 2008 Rachel Carson Prize from the Society for the Social Studies of Science and the 2006 Robert K. Merton Prize from the Section on Science, Knowledge and Technology of the American Sociology Association. His work as been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Wenner-Gren Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. His current work examines the evolution of the national security state in the United States, with a particular focus on the interplay between affect, technology, and threat perception within a national public sphere. (On leave winter 2018 through autumn 2018 quarter)

Selected Works

Selected Publications

Year Title / Publications PDF
n.d. Nuclear Optics: Visualization and Memory Practices in the U.S. Nuclear Complex. Book manuscript in progress; research completed.
n.d. The Nuclear Public Sphere: Essays on Radioactive Nation-Building. Book manuscript ready for submission.
n.d. Boundless Informant: Insecurity in the Age of Ubiquitous Surveillance Anthropological Theory (for a special issue edited by Setha Low and Zoltan Gluck) (Under review).
n.d. The Age of Man In Robert Emmett and Gregg Mitman, eds., Anthropocene Objects and Environmental Futures. (Forthcoming).
n.d. Ubiquitous Surveillance In Hugh Gusterson and Catherine Besteman, eds., Roboprocesses (Forthcoming).
2017 The Six Extinctions: Visualizing Planetary Ecological Crisis Today. In Richard Grusin, ed., After Extinction. University of Minnesota Press. 14(1): 11-40.
2017 The Crisis in Crisis Current Anthropology (special issue on "New Media, New Publics?") 58(15): 65-76.
2017 Fallout, In Color. In I. Szeman, J. Wenzel, and P. Yaeger, eds., Fueling Culture: Energy, History, Politics. Fordham University Press.
2016 Nuclear Past, Nuclear Futures; or, Disarmament Through Rebuilding Critical Studies on Security 3(3): 308-12.
2015 Anthropology and the Security State, written with John Borneman American Anthropologist 117(4): 781-94.
2015 The Age of Fallout. History of the Present: A Journal of Critical History. 5(2): 137-68.
2015 Catastrophe's Apocalypse. In Austin Surat, ed., The Time of Catastrophe. Ashgate.
2015 I Spy, or Anthropology's Others The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology 33(1): 131-33.
2014 The Theater of Operations: National Security Affect from the Cold War to the War on Terror. Duke University Press.
2014 Pre-empting Biosecurity: Threats, Fantasies, Futures. In N. Chen and L. Sharp (eds.), Bioinsecurity and Vulnerability. Santa Fe: School of Advanced Research Press, pp. 5-24.
2013 From The Nuclear Borderlands to the Counter-terror State: An Interview with Joseph P. Masco (by Mark Maguire). Anthropology/ Anthropologie Sociale. 21(3): 389-402.
2012 The End of Ends. Anthropological Quarterly, 85(4): 1109-1126.
2010 Atomic Health, Or How The Bomb Alterd American Notions of Death. In J. Metzl and A. Kirkland (eds.), Against Health. New York University Press, 133-156.
2010 Sensitive But Unclassified: Secrecy and the Counter-Terrorist State. Public Culture. 22(3): 433-63.
2010 Bad Weather: On Planetary Crisis. Social Studies of Science. 40(1):7-40.[Winner of the 2011 Maurice Daumas Prize from the International Committee for the History of Technology]
2010 Counterinsurgency, The Spook, and Blowback. In John Kelly, Sean Mitchell, Beatrice Jauregui, and Jeremy Walton (eds.) Anthropology and Counterinsurgency. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
2010 Atomic Health, Or How Nuclear Fear Shaped American Notions of Death. In Jonathan Metzl and Anna Kirkland (eds.) Against Health. New York: New York University Press.
2009 Life Underground: Building A Bunker Society. Anthropology Now. 1(2):13-29.
2008 Rehearsing the End at the Titan Missile Museum. On Site 20: 36-39. Rehearsing the End PDF
2008 Target Audience. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 64(3): 23-31.
2008 “Survival is Your Business”: Engineering Affect and Ruins in Nuclear America. Cultural Anthropology 23(2): 361-98.
2006 The Nuclear Borderlands: The Manhattan Project in Post-Cold War New Mexico. Princeton: 2008 Rachel Carson Prize (Society for the Social Studies of Science) 2007 John C. Cawelti Award Honorable Mention (American Culture Association ) 2006 Robert K. Merton Prize Co-winner (Section on Science, Knowledge and Technology), American Sociological Association 2014 J.I. Staley Prize, School of Advanced Research. Princeton University Press.
2006 5:29:45 AM. In I. Karp and C. Kratz, eds., Museum Frictions: Public Cultures/Global Transformations. Duke University Press, 102-106.
2005 “Active Measures”, or How a KGB Spymaster Made Good in Post-9/11 America. Radical History Review 93: 285-300. Active Measures PDF
2005 The Billboard Campaign: The Los Alamos Study Group and the Nuclear Public Sphere. Public Culture. 17(3): 487-97. (Billboard Campaign) PDF
2005 A Notebook on Desert Modernism: From The Nevada Test Site to Liberace’s 200-Pound Suit. In S. Harding and D. Rosenberg (eds.) Histories of the Future. Duke University Press, 19-49.
2004 Mutant Ecologies: Radioactive Life in Post-Cold War New Mexico. Cultural Anthropology. 19(4): 517-550. (Mutant Ecologies) PDF
2004 Nuclear Technoaesthetics: Sensory Politics from Trinity to the Virtual Bomb in Los Alamos. American Ethnologist. 31(3): 1-25. (Nuclear Technoaesthetics) PDF
2002 Lie Detectors: On Secrets and Hypersecurity in Los Alamos. Public Culture. 14(3): 441-467.
1999 States of Insecurity: Plutonium and Post-Cold War Anxiety in New Mexico, 1992-96. In J. Weldes, M. Laffey, H. Gusterson, & R. Duval (eds.), Cultures of Insecurity: States, Communities and the Production of Danger. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 203-231.
1996 Competitive Displays: Negotiating Genealogical Rights to the Potlatch at the American Museum of Natural History. American Anthropologist. 98(4): 837-852. (Competitive Displays) PDF
1995 ‘It Is a Strict Law That Bids Us Dance’: Cosmologies, Colonialism, Death and Ritual Authority in the Kwakwaka’wakw Potlatch, 1849-1922. Comparative Studies in Society and History. 37(1): 41-75. (Strict Law) PDF