Space and the Atom: On the Popular Geopolitics of Cold War Rocketry

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This paper considers the imbricated domains of space exploration and Cold War geopolitics by following the trajectory of the 'Corporal', the world's first guided missile authorised to carry a nuclear warhead. It examines the popular geopolitics of rocketry as both a technology of mass destruction and as a vehicle for the transcendent dreams of extra-terrestrial discovery. Avoiding both technical and statist accounts, the paper shows how these technologies of Cold War strategic advantage were activated and sustained through popular media and everyday experience. Particular attention is given to such mundane activities as children's play, citing the example of die-cast miniature toys of the Corporal. Through such apparently modest means, nuclear weapons were made intelligible in, and transposable to, a domestic context. The paper is also situated within a wider emerging literature on geographies and geopolitics of outer space.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)611-634
Number of pages24
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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