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Germ WarsThe Politics of Microbes and America's Landscape of Fear$
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Melanie Armstrong

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520292765

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520292765.001.0001

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Microbes for War and Peace

Microbes for War and Peace

On the Military Origins of Containment

Chapter:
(p.68) 2 Microbes for War and Peace
Source:
Germ Wars
Author(s):

Melanie Armstrong

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520292765.003.0003

When the U.S. military created a bioweapons research program at Fort Detrick, Maryland, following World War II, it enlisted microbiology in the production of modern warfare. Biological weapons magnify the potential of germs to harm humans, remaking the terms of risk to account for natures that have been engineered to be more contagious, fatal, and far-reaching. This alliance between war and science also bracketed certain ways of knowing nature by creating spaces and mechanisms to control microbes according to human desires. Beyond the weapon itself, bioweapons research promulgated knowledge of containment, designing top-secret, high-security laboratory spaces for the safe study of deadly microbes, thereby materializing the belief that microbes must (and could) be contained.

Keywords:   biological weapons, biological warfare, laboratory, containment, risk, nature, war, science, Fort Detrick

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