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Nuclear Desire

Power and the Postcolonial Nuclear Order

2014
Author:

Shampa Biswas

Nuclear Desire

Argues that the nonproliferation regime helps sustain a global nuclear order that generates the desire for nuclear weapons

Nuclear Desire proposes that pursuit and production of nuclear power is sustained by an unequal global order whose persistent and daily harmful effects are experienced by some of the most vulnerable bodies around the world. Shampa Biswas makes a compelling case for nuclear abolition and provides new insights into how a more secure world might simultaneously be more peaceful and just.

Aligning herself with the most vulnerable, and armed with a sharp stylus, Shampa Biswas deftly dissects the sprawling corpus of the global nuclear order. Focusing her analysis on the sinews of the nuclear non-proliferation regime, she tracks and traces the modalities through which ideological allure and enforced abstinence, sanitized events and horrifying accidents, faith in deterrence and flows of deathly waste, commodity fetishism and enlightenment technologies of rule, expensive state security and opaque political economy come together to power this colonial regime. Nuclear Desire offers profound and provocative insights into the hierarchical structuring and colonial governance of contemporary global orders.

Himadeep Muppidi, Vassar College

Since its enactment in 1970, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), has become one node of a massive, sprawling, multibillion-dollar regime that is considered essential to slowing the proliferation of nuclear weapons and weapons technology. However, according to Shampa Biswas, these well-intentioned efforts to halt the spread of nuclear weapons deflect attention from a hierarchical global nuclear order dominated by powerful states and capitalist interests that benefit from the status quo.

In Nuclear Desire, Biswas proposes that pursuit and production of nuclear power is sustained by this unequal global order whose persistent and daily harmful effects are experienced by some of the most vulnerable bodies around the world. Making a compelling case for nuclear abolition, she shows that the path to nuclear zero is more successfully traversed through the perspective of postcolonialism and the political economy of injustice—rather than through the prism of “security.” In the end, the nonproliferation regime maintains a hierarchy of haves and have-nots, one that reinforces inequalities that run counter to the NPT’s broader goal.

Innovative, forcefully argued, and long overdue, Nuclear Desire moves beyond conventional critiques to give scholars and students of international relations new insights into how a more secure world might simultaneously be more peaceful and just.

Awards

Honorable Mention: International Political Sociology Book Award

Nuclear Desire

Shampa Biswas is Paul Garrett Professor of Political Science at Whitman College and the coeditor of International Relations and States of Exception: Margins, Peripheries, and Excluded Bodies and Torture: Power, Democracy, and the Human Body.

Nuclear Desire

Aligning herself with the most vulnerable, and armed with a sharp stylus, Shampa Biswas deftly dissects the sprawling corpus of the global nuclear order. Focusing her analysis on the sinews of the nuclear non-proliferation regime, she tracks and traces the modalities through which ideological allure and enforced abstinence, sanitized events and horrifying accidents, faith in deterrence and flows of deathly waste, commodity fetishism and enlightenment technologies of rule, expensive state security and opaque political economy come together to power this colonial regime. Nuclear Desire offers profound and provocative insights into the hierarchical structuring and colonial governance of contemporary global orders.

Himadeep Muppidi, Vassar College

Nuclear Desire moves us to rethink the route to a nuclear-free world as one that must center reasons of peace and social justice. Shampa Biswas moves beyond well-rehearsed critiques—indeed, beyond critique itself—to give us new insights into how a more secure world might simultaneously be more peaceful and just.

J. Marshall Beier, McMaster University

Nuclear Desire

Contents

Acknowledgments
Abbreviations

Introduction: Use and Waste in the Global Nuclear Order

1. Intentions and Effects: The Proliferation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime
2. Whose Nuclear Order? A Postcolonial Critique of an Enlightenment Project
3. Unusable, Dangerous, and Desirable: Nuclear Weapons as Fetish Commodities
4. Costly Weapons: The Political Economy of Nuclear Power

Conclusion. Decolonizing the Nuclear World: Can the Subaltern Speak?

Appendix: The Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Nuclear Desire

UMP blog: A sustainable planet is a nuclear-free planet.

Carbon-emitting fossil fuels might be the most obvious cause of a warming planet, but there is much disagreement on what could be viable alternatives to coal and oil that are able to sustain existing energy usages.