A Harmless Beetle: Entomology and Unconventional Warfare on the Cold War’s Secret Scientific Front


Associate Professor Martha Lincoln speaks at Duke University as a part of their Paranormal Working Group Series

History and the humanities confront a troubling truth: that the present is the product of past events, but much of the past is unavailable, either accidentally or by design. In attempting to rationalize the present, we are frequently confronted by pasts that are not only ‘difficult’ for their traumatic legacies, but also epistemologically indeterminate. As a result, efforts to write the history of the present are shot through with uncanniness: unexplained causalities, mysterious antecedents, and contradictory accounts.

Difficult histories pose an additional difficulty: In the interstices between the part of the past that is known and the part which is unknown lies all that is half-known, intuited, suspected, repressed, fantasized, demonized and embellished. Episodes that are difficult to resolve and reconstruct are often troubling, and may be experienced as ghostly, conspiratorial, and haunted.