“A People’s Atlas of the Nuclear United States” is a digital public humanities project that documents and interprets the relational geographies of nuclear materials used by the United States military. The Atlas is structured to articulate scalar relationships — from the planetary to the corporeal — and to simultaneously present cartographic, textual, and image-based information in order to foster active interpretation and meaning-making on the part of its users. The pilot phase of the online project focuses on the state of Colorado and its immediate surroundings, which includes sites and processes representing all stages of the nuclear cycle, from extraction, milling, and processing to the assembly and deployment of weapons to the storage and monitoring of waste. A dedicated but often disconnected and underfunded collection of community and labor organizations, nonprofits, and researchers has arisen to address these legacies, and the Atlas is conceived both as a means of amplifying their work to a larger audience and as a platform to facilitate their collaboration. More than another clickable map, the Atlas will serve to articulate and interpret local embodied experiences, regional material-environmental politics, and their global and intergenerational consequences, thereby making visible what remains a hidden legacy not only of environmental devastation but also of community resilience.
Sarah Kanouse, Faculty, Art+Design