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Hagerty Library, Stern Room, 302, 3300 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104


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HPOL Colloquium: The Rise of Mass Secrecy in the Cold War Military Industrial Economy

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

3:30 PM-5:00 PM

Mihir Pandya, PhD, University of Southern California


To better understand the structure of contemporary state secrecy and the anxieties it engenders—the breadth of secrecy practices, the seemingly routine disclosure of classified information, the division of labor between state agencies and private contractors—we can step back in time.

During and after the Second World War, most military-industrial secrets were neither scarce nor sacred. Instead, they were segments of technical information accessible to thousands, rather than only the charismatic elite. An analysis of the material practices of secrecy in Southern California’s aerospace economy offers an opportunity to track how technical secrets circulated and to what effect.

Panya argues that in this period we see the consolidation of a form of mass secrecy in which secrets were common in number and in quality. Understanding the changing nature of secrecy as a social fact during the Cold War helps us contextualize the functions and limits of knowledge regulation in the present.

Contact Information

Lauren Farmer, program coordinator