Empire and Technopolitics in the Global Cold War
352 pp., 6 x 9 in, 11 figures, 1 table
- Published: April 4, 2011
- Publisher: The MIT Press
Investigations into how technologies became peculiar forms of politics in an expanded geography of the Cold War.
The Cold War was not simply a duel of superpowers. It took place not just in Washington and Moscow but also in the social and political arenas of geographically far-flung countries emerging from colonial rule. Moreover, Cold War tensions were manifest not only in global political disputes but also in struggles over technology. Technological systems and expertise offered a powerful way to shape countries politically, economically, socially, and culturally. Entangled Geographies explores how Cold War politics, imperialism, and postcolonial nation building became entangled in technologies and considers the legacies of those entanglements for today's globalized world.
The essays address such topics as the islands and atolls taken over for military and technological purposes by the supposedly non-imperial United States, apartheid-era South Africa's efforts to achieve international legitimacy as a nuclear nation, international technical assistance and Cold War politics, the Saudi irrigation system that spurred a Shi'i rebellion, and the momentary technopolitics of emergency as practiced by Medecins sans Frontières.
The contributors to Entangled Geographies offer insights from the anthropology and history of development, from diplomatic history, and from science and technology studies. The book represents a unique synthesis of these three disciplines, providing new perspectives on the global Cold War.
As always with a good collection of scholarly studies such as this, a brief review cannot discuss all of the contributions, each of which deserves notice.
Hecht and her contributors have made an important contribution to scholarship that suggests new directions for the study of the history of technology, integrating it into diplomatic history, international relations, and colonial and post-colonial studies. This collection of articles, bound together by the editor's suggestive concept of technopolitics, refuses a hegemonic tradition that places the West and US–USSR rivalry at the core of the Cold War. It is also of contemporary importance, since several chapters engage with various forms of Islamic resistance to Western models of development and domination. Innovative and engaged, it will appeal to scholars in many different intellectual disciplines.
John Krige, Kranzberg Professor, School of History, Technology, and Society, Georgia Institute of Technology