Haunted Mountains, Supershelters, and the Afterlives of Cold War Infrastructure


  • David L. Pike Department of Literature American University




Bunker fantasy, supershelter, sacred mountains, Cold War, Mount Shasta


A dominant architectural form in the global North since the end of the Second World War, the deep-level supershelters, command centers, and hidden fortifications built within mountains mobilize an ambivalent imaginary called here the ‘bunker fantasy’. This cluster of images is simultaneously technologized and sacred. During the Cold War, imagined mountain bunkers in nuclear war fiction are shown to be haunted by what they exclude. After the Cold War, repurposed mountain-side bunkers and installations invoke new forms of the sacred as part of their reckoning with the past. Because the nuclear condition works against a progressive sense of history, it permits previously discredited or marginalized beliefs to begin recirculating in a new context. Through sacred mountains like Mount Shasta, the apocalyptic prospect of nuclear war becomes just one element within a cosmic and cyclical history that imagines alternate possibilities for the twentieth century.

Author Biography

David L. Pike, Department of Literature American University

David L. Pike, Department of Literature, American University, Washington, DC, USA.


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How to Cite

Pike, D. (2019). Haunted Mountains, Supershelters, and the Afterlives of Cold War Infrastructure. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, 13(2), 208–229. https://doi.org/10.1558/jsrnc.36575



CLOSED--Special Issue: Mountains and Sacred Landscapes