In the United States, ideas from blue-collar workers were coveted objects during World War II. In an effort to “outthink” the Axis, an unusual organization of knowledge production emerged, in which workers were implored to share their ideas with a nation at war. This article interrogates a set of posters produced by the War Production Board and labor-management committees that articulate this particular history of ideas. By examining the reconfigurations of time and space, the incorporation of workers’ bodies and minds, and the campaign’s understandings of expertise and property, the article draws attention to the historical particularities of how knowledge production, material production, and war were interrelated in this economy of ideas.
Uncle Sam Needs Your Ideas: A Brief History of Embodied Knowledge in American World War II Posters
Bregje F. van Eekelen is a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey (2017–18), and a senior researcher in the history of social and human sciences at Erasmus University Rotterdam. She is the principal investigator (PI) for the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)–funded project “Brainstorms: A Cultural History of Undisciplined Thought,” which charts the history of creative thinking in military and industrial settings between 1930 and 1965. She is a founding member of the Erasmus Institute for Public Knowledge. She received her PhD from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Bregje F. van Eekelen; Uncle Sam Needs Your Ideas: A Brief History of Embodied Knowledge in American World War II Posters. Public Culture 1 January 2018; 30 (1): 113–142. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/08992363-4189191
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