1963: Cold War Unlimited – Symposium in Sheffield

Post on behalf of Fabienne Collignon

1963: Cold War Unlimited – University of Sheffield, 20 September 2013

On 5 August 1963, one day short of the 18th anniversary of the dropping of an atom bomb on Hiroshima and after more than eight years of difficult negotiations, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union signed the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Kennedy signed and ratified the treaty on 7 October 1963, about a month and a half before his assassination on 22 November 1963. Any limit both forbids and allows: the Test Ban Treaty’s prohibition of any nuclear debris that crosses territorial frontiers acknowledges the limitless nature of radioactivity and grants the licence to continue testing (underground). This symposium, aware of Pynchonian ramifications and daisy chains (V is published in 1963), is thus concerned with the spatial and temporal imaginaries of the Cold War. We look to understand the political and cultural rhetoric as well as the continuities of the Cold War through its convolutions of space and time. We will analyse reversals, inversals; insides outside, outsides within; historical futures, belated presents and speculative pasts. This symposium is not about binaries, but about fallout: the illimitable dominion of the Cold War.

The fulcrum of this one-day convention exists around a moment in time, the year 1963. The 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis is more commonly associated with a turning point in Cold War history; this symposium posits that another occurred the following year. After 1963 and the signing of the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Cold War tensions, for a while, follow the Treaty underground: the military budget, for example, is diverted through the creation of a civilian agency, NASA, to conduct the space race. Therefore, both year and Treaty gesture towards networks of secrets, the unseen forces and spectacular performances (as well as failures) of military systems, the lethal plots of the Cold War. Any text—by which we mean any cultural production—whether published in the 1960s or not, that deals with the patterns intimated above and developed below, is welcome to be investigated. At the core of this symposium exists the 1960s, but the core is radioactive: Cold War Unlimited.

We encourage creative as well as critical work on the Cold War and the continuum of the Cold War: we’re interested in research projects at the interface of military history, cultural studies, literature, art, theory, film, the history of science and technology. We seek to edit a special journal issue/section on the subject, where selected papers (of up to 6,000 words) will be published by the end of 2014.

The following three zones, in reference to the Treaty, stand to be examined:

Zone I: Space/Time

Traversals of spatial/temporal dimensions—(under) water; atmosphere; outer space; earth; crypts of culture; nesting, burrowing, burying.

Papers might consider:

  • the spatial dialectics of the Cold War and the spatialising logic of the Cold War;
  • bunker archaeology and aesthetics;
  • landscapes of pollution/power and/or fields of energy;
  • strategies of ‘survival’, retreat, protection, isolation, dreams of escape;
  • inertia;
  • worlds of insulating terminology;
  • surface events;
  • depositories

Zone II: Techno-Culture

The machine inside; inside the machine.

Papers might consider:

  •  psycho/technology;
  • hardware/software interfaces, cyborg ontology;
  • terminal identity;
  • sentinels and/or drones;
  • black boxing;
  • gadget love;
  • the living and the undead;
  • miniaturization

Zone III: Deterritorializations

  • Information systems, the information state; codes; informational non-spaces.
  • computer culture, culture formed by/through the computer, computers and cultural forces;
  • tracking technologies, military surveillance systems;
  • self-erasing technologies;
  • game theory;
  • aesthetics of virtual realities and data flows;
  • transnational networks, digital technology
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