Joseph Masco

Professor of Anthropology

(773) 834-7807

Areas of special interest: Science studies, the anthropology of security, critical theory, political ecology, race and nation, mass media and expressive culture; US, North America.

(PhD, UC San Diego 1999) Professor of Anthropology and of the Social Sciences in the College. Joseph Masco works at the intersection of science and technology studies, security studies, and American Studies, with specific interests in post-1945 U.S. national security sciences and culture, political ecology and environmental crisis, mass media and affect, and critical theory. He is the author of The Nuclear Borderlands: The Manhattan Project in Post-Cold War New Mexico (Princeton University Press, 2006 – winner of the 2008 Rachel Carson Prize from the Society for Social Studies of Science and the 2006 Robert K. Merton Prize from the American Sociological Association). He has a forthcoming book, The Theater of Operations: National Security Affect from the Cold War to the War on Terror (Duke University Press), examining the relationship between affects and infrastructures in the production of the national security state. He is currently working on two book projects. The first, The Nuclear Public Sphere, is an ethnographic and theoretical examination of memory practices within the U.S. nuclear complex focused on how films, museums, and digital archives increasingly constitute the conditions of possibility for knowing a still largely classified technology and state history. The second, Engineered Worlds: Living Post-Nature, to be developed as a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton) in 2013-14, is an investigation of the emerging politics of global environmental crisis with a specific focus on problems of scale, planetary forms of knowing, and visualization practices across the earth sciences.

Selected Recent Publications:

  • (Forthcoming) The Theater of Operations: National Security Affect From the Cold War to the War on Terror. Durham: Duke University Press.
  • 2006 The Nuclear Borderlands: The Manhattan Project in Post-Cold War New Mexico. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
    • 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 Sociology Association
  • 2014 “Pre-empting Biosecurity: Threats, Fantasies, Futures” in Bioinsecurity and Vulnerability edited by Nancy Chen and Lesley Sharp. Santa Fe: School of Advanced Research Press.
  • 2012 “The End of Ends” Anthropology Quarterly 85(4): 1109-1126.
  • 2010 “Atomic Health, Or How The Bomb Altered American Notions of Death” in Jonathan Metzl and Anna Kirkland (ed) Against Health. New York: New York University Press, p133-156.
  • 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
  • 2009 “Life Underground: Building A Bunker Society” Anthropology Now 1(2): 13-29.
  • 2008 “Target Audience” The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 64(3): 23-31.
  • 2008 “’Survival Is Your Business’: Engineering Ruins and Affect in Nuclear America” Cultural Anthropology 23(2): 361-98.
  • 2006 “5:29:45 AM” in Ivan Karp, Corrine Kratz, Lynn Szwaja, and Tomas Ybarra-Frausto (eds) Museum Frictions: Public Cultures/Global Transformations. Durham: Duke University Press, 102-6pp.
  • 2005 “The Billboard Campaign: The Los Alamos Study Group and the Nuclear Public Sphere” Public Culture 17(3): 487-497.
  • 2004 “Mutant Ecologies: Radioactive Life in Post-Cold War New Mexico” Cultural Anthropology 19(4): 517-550.
  • 2004 “Nuclear Technoaesthetics: Sensory Politics from Trinity to the Virtual Bomb in Los Alamos” American Ethnologist 31(3):1-25.