Mass observing the atom bomb: the emotional politics of August 1945

Langhamer, Claire (2018) Mass observing the atom bomb: the emotional politics of August 1945. Contemporary British History. ISSN 1361-9462

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In August 1945 the social investigative organisation, Mass-Observation, asked its panel of volunteer writers to ‘Describe in detail your own feelings and views about the atom bomb, and those of the people you meet.’ This article uses the responses to explore the emotional politics of ‘nuclearity’ in the immediate aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. First it examines the impact that the atomic explosions had upon ways of narrating, and managing, the emotional self. Second it explores the influence of nuclear knowledge on felt social relations. The article argues that first use of the atom bomb had a profound impact upon British people’s understandings of the past, the present and the political future; and that the responses of ordinary people in turn helped to shape a messy and contradictory popular nuclear culture within which feeling operated as a way of knowing, and intervening in, the world.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Britain, Mass Observation, Nuclearity, Emotion, 1945
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > History
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA History of Great Britain
Depositing User: Claire Langhamer
Date Deposited: 19 Feb 2018 10:50
Last Modified: 21 Mar 2020 02:00

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