World Crisis from Below. Material and immaterial remains from the Missile Crisis (1962)

Research project

Short description

The objective of the project is to investigate material and intangible remains from the so-called Missile Crisis, at the Cuban countryside. By exploring these remains, in the form of physical remnants and oral stories, the project can complement and challenge the big story of the crisis with small-scale stories from below.


In October 1962, the world was standing on the brink of a nuclear war between the two superpowers the US and the Soviet Union. The triggering factor for the crisis was the fact that the Soviet Union had deployed strategic nuclear missiles in Cuba, among others, for defending the Cuban Revolution against the constant aggression of the United States. The crisis was resolved diplomatically, and the world could breathe again. The development of the crisis, and its significance during the Cold War, are both well-documented and well-researched, but the recurring repetition of the crisis’s general course of events also implies that other stories about it have been repressed. Today, there still exists material remains at the former Soviet nuclear bases, and people living in their vicinity in the countryside or in local communities, mantains everyday memories and stories of the crisis and of the Soviet soldiers. This unique material complements and challenges the general story of the crisis. Since 2005, Swedish archaeologists and Cuban historians, anthropologists and archaeologists have, within the framework of the project, researched these material and intangible remains.


The intention is to document and investigate material and intangible remains from the Missile Crisis at the Cuban countryside, how these remains have been reused, and how they are used as cultural heritage resources.


By complementing and challenging the overall narration of the Missile Crisis with small-scale, everyday and human, material and intangible stories about, and from, the crisis, new knowledge is created.


The project has collected, analyzed and published a extensive material that contributes to increase the understanding of the Missile Crisis since its small-scale and everyday dimensions are highlighted.