This book furthers academic scholarship in cutting-edge areas of geographical and geopolitical writing by drawing on a series of little-studied undersea living projects conducted by the US Navy during the Cold War (Project Genesis, Sealab I, II and III). Supported by an engaging and novel empirical setting, the central themes of the book revolve around the practice and construct of ‘territory’, ‘terrain’, the ‘elemental’ and the interrelationships between these material phenomenon and both human and non-human bodies. Furthermore, the book will point to future research trajectories in the form of ‘extreme geographies’ to better understand living practices in a world that is increasingly submerged and extreme.
Rachael Squire is a Political Geographer and Lecturer in Human Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her research engages with the concepts of territory, embodiment, and ‘volume’ with a particular focus on the space of the sea.
1. Introduction: Towards the ‘Deep Dark Sea’
2. ‘Taking Chances for all of Mankind’: Taming the Underwater Frontier
3. Domesticating and Dishwashing: Making Home on the Seafloor
4. ‘A Breed Apart’: Taking the Measure of Man
5. ‘Think Helium’: Submarine Pressures and Elemental Entanglements
6. Companions, Zappers, and Invaders: The Animals of Sealab
7. From Sealab to Skylab: Inhabiting Extremes
Extending critical geopolitical analysis to investigate an unlikely venue, Rachel Squire brilliantly shows how American cold war geopolitical culture was a combination of science, masculinity and exploration. This fascinating account of a nearly forgotten scientific project explores the underwater world of Sealab, its aquanauts, scientists and their dangerous experimental habitat, built in the quest to dominate the frontier space of the ocean.
A fascinating study of a little-known story in the Cold War. Using archival and other historical sources, Squire takes us beneath the surface to explore the world of Sealab with its multiple geographies. Engagingly written and conceptually innovative, this is an important contribution to political geography and wider debates about territory, volume and materiality.