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L'image du mois

The Atomic City

Lindsay Freeman, PhD, Sociology and Historical Studies
The New School for Social Research
Structure de recherche associée à la MRSH : ESO-Caen
Date : 19/03/2013
Lieu : MRSH
Durée : 35:45

Lindsey A. Freeman is a PhD, Sociology and Historical Studies at the New School for Social Research. Her research concerns the secret atomic cities of the Manhattan Project and examines the legacies of the Atomic Age in a post-nuclear landscape. She has published articles on atomic history, atomic tourism, and the relationship between artists and social scientists as they intersect in a museal context. She is also a founding member of the New School Interdisciplinary Memory Studies Group. In the Spring of 2013, Lindsey will be a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Caen-Normandy in the Geography Department in conjunction with Espaces et Sociétés (Space and Society) and Le Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS).

Abstract

During the Second World War, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was a secret government city created from scratch for the Manhattan Project. Despite the fact that the city was built at a furious pace for an urgent war project and was meant to be invisible, great care was taken with the design of the town. Oak Ridge was socially engineered to be the ‘uranium center of excellence,' an atomic Levittown before Levittown. On its way to becoming the uranium center of excellence, there are two interlocking tropes that are primarily used to describe the town's early construction and design: the frontier and utopia. In Oak Ridge, the frontier and utopian imaginations do not compete so much as nestle alongside and within each other. Of course the frontier and utopian imaginations are not unique to the former secret atomic city of Oak Ridge, but characteristic of other regional and national myths as well. What is unique is how these common tropes are used to tell the story of a particular town at the emergence of atomic modernity. 

 

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