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Cold War LegaciesSystems, Theory, Aesthetics$
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John Beck and Ryan Bishop

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781474409483

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474409483.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 19 April 2021

The Meaning of Monte Bello

The Meaning of Monte Bello

(p.85) Chapter 4 The Meaning of Monte Bello
Cold War Legacies

James Purdon

Edinburgh University Press

On 3 October 1952, the first successful British nuclear test was conducted near the Monte Bello islands off the coast of Australia. The test was a media event as well as a military one, reported in The Times and documented in the Ministry of Supply’s film Operation Hurricane. The Monte Bello test marked a key success for Britain’s nuclear ambitions and a new phase in its relations with the Commonwealth of Nations. Australia -- with its vast uranium deposits and remote desert proving-grounds -- became central to the production and testing of British nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, the rhetoric of commodity circulation that had characterized the films of the Empire Marketing Board and the GPO provided a model for Operation Hurricane’s images of exported military hardware put to use in the former colony. This chapter traces these networks of exchange and their representation, showing how the Commonwealth’s iconography of nuclear defence revised the Empire’s iconography of free trade. It demonstrates how the supposedly remote and marginal spaces of the Australian continent came to serve British nuclear culture as a kind of geopolitical unconscious: a false terra nullius where, paradoxically, the strategic basis of the Commonwealth’s security could be created.

Keywords:   nuclear weapons, Commonwealth, Australia, Nuclear testing sites, Operation Hurricane

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