American Studies ETDs

Publication Date



In the initial scoping phase of this research project, the main question I used for guidance was "to what extent and how did the Manhattan Project impact New Mexico and New Mexicans?" My first objective was to assess the magnitude of the state's transformation before addressing the other questions that soon ensued from this original reflection. A brief historical review of the state's transformation will introduce these questions, and comparing pre-World War II and post-Cold War New Mexico will justify the term "revolutionized" I used above. This dissertation retraces the story of this scientific colonization from the point of view of those who have often been cast aside to the margins of official histories: the local people. In the 1940s, local Pueblo Indians, Hispanic farmers, Mexican immigrants, and Anglo ranchers extensively relied on agro-pastoral activities for sustenance and lived on the fringe of industrialized America. Many of these locals' lives were drastically altered by the development of the nuclear economy. The current socio-economic, demographic, and environmental situation of New Mexico is considerably correlated to the history of the Manhattan Project. In fact, the arrival of atomic science during the course of the Second World War revolutionized this remote, generally ignored land in the American West, and resulted in the development of a federally-sponsored nuclear and high-technology complex.




New Mexico, Manhattan Project, New Mexico culture, New Mexico economy, atomic science, New Mexico militarization, Trinity test, New Mexico environment

Document Type


Degree Name

American Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

American Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)

Susanne Berthier-Folgar

Second Committee Member

Jean Kempf

Third Committee Member

Bernard Genton

Fourth Committee Member

Olivier Fraysse

Fifth Committee Member

Manuel Garcia Y Griego