Brown bag seminar | Nuclear weapons choices governing vulnerabilities between past and future
The Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics (SITE) together with the Center for Statecraft and Strategic Communication (CSSC) and CIVICA, is proud to welcome Dr. Benoît Pelopidas, Director of the research program Nuclear Knowledges, SciencesPo, to discuss his ongoing research project "Nuclear weapons choices governing vulnerabilities between past and future". The seminar will be moderated by Rikard Westerberg, Center Director of CSSC. This is a brown bag seminar, feel free to bring your own lunch.
How is the scope of available nuclear weapon choices decided?
Dr. Benoît Pelopidas explores the challenges of imagining the possibility of nuclear war and unwanted nuclear explosions, both in international policy and in people’s minds. Through public opinion research, he documented popular knowledge about nuclear weapons. Using untapped primary sources, he demonstrates the role of luck in avoiding nuclear catastrophes. His research elaborates nuclear vulnerability beyond its material dimension, providing lessons for other existential problems such as climate change.
Nuclear weapons choices commit populations and societies for decades and can wipe them out in matters of minutes. How is the scope of available nuclear weapons choices decided? Direct experience cannot be the answer as no one can rely on personal experience of nuclear war. Most decision-makers no longer even have the experience of the effects of such weapons either given that North Korea has been the only country testing nuclear weapons since 1998. The populations’ wishes do not qualify either, since they are very rarely consulted and only few studies on those attitudes exist. Combining archival research and interviews worldwide, large-scale polling and discourse analysis of policy officials and strategists over several decades, this programme assesses the blinding power of categories created several decades ago and sometimes still deemed as irreplaceable lexicon of the nuclear age as well as the way in which nuclear weapons programs modify the governance of knowledge. Based on those findings, it offers a renewed notion of responsibility in the nuclear age built on full awareness of nuclear vulnerabilities in their epistemic and political dimensions, and not only the material ones.
About the speaker
Benoît Pelopidas is an Associate Professor and the founding director of the Nuclear Knowledges program at the Center for International Studies, Sciences Po, Paris. Nuclear Knowledges is the first scholarly research program in France on the nuclear phenomenon which refuses funding from stakeholders of the nuclear weapons entreprise or from antinuclear activists in order to problematize conflicts of interest and their effect on knowledge production. The program mobilizes interdisciplinary methods to become able to assess accepted claims about nuclear realities. Benoît is an affiliate to CISAC at Stanford University and has been a regular visiting fellow at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security. He is the PI of the project NUCLEAR funded by the European Research Council.
CIVICA research excellence tours series
This seminar is part of the CIVICA Research Excellence Tours series, scholars present their research, share their expertise, and meet with faculty and (post)doctoral researchers of the CIVICA universities. The series aims to assert the scientific identity of the CIVICA alliance within the global academic community.
The seminar will take place in room A328 at SSE, Bertil Ohlins gata 5, 113 50 Stockholm. The seminar will NOT be streamed online. Please register via the Trippus platform (here).
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