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Two nations underground: building schools to survive nuclear war and desegregation in the 1960s

Preston, J (2017) 'Two nations underground: building schools to survive nuclear war and desegregation in the 1960s.' Race, Ethnicity and Education, 20 (1). pp. 30-41. ISSN 1470-109X

Abstract

In the 1960s federal agencies in the US encouraged the building of protected schools designed to survive a nuclear attack. A number of designs, including underground schools, were constructed. In order to promote the building of protected schools, the US government produced a number of propaganda films for school boards and governors. In addition to promoting post-nuclear survival, these films considered that protected schools were beneficial in terms of progressive and child-centred education and sometimes racial assimilation. This article considers the extent to which securitisation and progressive education found a common purpose at this time and considers the implications of this for race equality. The data is based upon rare, archival film from the US National Archives in College Park, Maryland on school protection during the cold war. These films, intended for wider public consumption were intended as promotional shorts for schools boards and other decision-makers to show the advantages of adding fallout protection to school design. The method involved an archival search to scope the range of films produced at this time. Each film was viewed multiple times at the archive to transcribe text and image descriptions. This dual data was then used to form a narrative account of the argument structure of the films to identify the ways in which interest convergences and divergences around ‘race’ are deployed. The discussion uses conceptions of ‘flexible whiteness’ to examine how securitisation, a discourse identified with white hegemony, can additionally contain conceptions of race equality and progressivism.

Item Type: Article
Note:

First published online in November 2015.

Keywords: whiteness, cold war, security, racism
Divisions: Institute for Education
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2017 15:24
Last Modified: 28 Sep 2017 08:41
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