South Asian Cultures of the Bomb: Atomic Publics and the State in India and Pakistan

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Since their founding as independent nations, nuclear issues have been key elements of nationalism and the public sphere in both India and Pakistan. Yet the relationship between ... nuclear arms and civil society in the region is seldom taken into account in conventional security studies. These original and provocative essays examine the political and ideological components of national drives to possess and test nuclear weapons. Equal coverage for comparable issues in each country frames the volume as a genuine dialogue across this contested boundary. Read more Show Less

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Since their founding as independent nations, nuclear issues have been key elements of nationalism and the public sphere in both India and Pakistan. Yet the relationship between ... nuclear arms and civil society in the region is seldom taken into account in conventional security studies. These original and provocative essays examine the political and ideological components of national drives to possess and test nuclear weapons. Equal coverage for comparable issues in each country frames the volume as a genuine dialogue across this contested boundary. Read more Show Less

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Overview

India and Pakistan became independent nations early in the world's atomic age. Nuclear power and nuclear weapons have been present from the beginning as key features of nationalism and the public sphere in each country. Yet the relationship between nuclear arms and civil society in South Asia is seldom taken into account in conventional security studies. What explains the fascination of Indian and Pakistani elites with nuclear weapons? What accounts for the absence of a mass antinuclear movement in either country? What do people outside New Delhi and Islamabad think of nuclear weapons? In these original and provocative essays, scholars from India, Pakistan, the U.S., UK, and European argue that if we are to find answers to these important questions it is crucial to understand nuclear power in South Asia beyond the narrow confines of strategic studies. The contributors stress the political and ideological components of national drives to possess and test nuclear weapons, incorporating approaches from history, political theory, sociology, anthropology, media studies, art history, and post colonial studies. A distinctive feature of the volume is the attempt to provide equal coverage for comparable issues in both India and Pakistan, resulting in a genuine intellectual dialogue across this contested boundary.
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Editorial Reviews

Arvind Rajagopal

"[A]n illuminating volume on the ways in which modern science, state secrecy and popular culture have been used to sanction active atomic weapons projects in India and in Pakistan. Those interested in cultural insights into how and why South Asia became a nuclear flashpoint will find this book indispensable." —Arvind Rajagopal, author of Politics After Television: Hindu Nationalism and the Reshaping of the Public in India

Pacific Affairs - Robert S. Anderson

"For the first time scholars in this book present a multivoiced assessment of the subtle sociocultural effects of the 1998 nuclear tests in India and Pakistan....This book proves conclusively, again, that a partition done haphazardly in 1947 led to very different experiences in the evolution of military–industrial–political complexes in each country. But where others have focused largely on states and strategic cultures, these authors, under Abraham’s able editorship, show how these two atomic publics are constructed and interact with their surroundings." —Robert S. Anderson, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada, Pacific Affairs

British Journal for the History of Science - Jahnavi Phalkey

"[The author] Abraham has brought together scholars writing on both Pakistan and India to reflect on the place of science, the atomic question, popular culture and the state. In doing so, he has managed to push forward a perspective that is transnational in a meaningful way for the subcontinent...." —Jahnavi Phalkey

Pacific Affairs
"For the first time scholars in this book present a multivoiced assessment of the subtle sociocultural effects of the 1998 nuclear tests in India and Pakistan....This book proves conclusively, again, that a partition done haphazardly in 1947 led to very different experiences in the evolution of military–industrial–political complexes in each country. But where others have focused largely on states and strategic cultures, these authors, under Abraham’s able editorship, show how these two atomic publics are constructed and interact with their surroundings." —Robert S. Anderson, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada, Pacific Affairs

— Robert S. Anderson, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada

British Journal for the History of Science
"[The author] Abraham has brought together scholars writing on both Pakistan and India to reflect on the place of science, the atomic question, popular culture and the state. In doing so, he has managed to push forward a perspective that is transnational in a meaningful way for the subcontinent...." —Jahnavi Phalkey

— Jahnavi Phalkey

From the Publisher

"[The author] Abraham has brought together scholars writing on both Pakistan and India to reflect on the place of science, the atomic question, popular culture and the state. In doing so, he has managed to push forward a perspective that is transnational in a meaningful way for the subcontinent...." —Jahnavi Phalkey

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253352538
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 3/26/2009
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Itty Abraham is Associate Professor of Government and Director of the South Asia Institute at The University of Texas, Austin. He is author of The Making of the Indian Atomic Bomb and editor (with Willem van Schendel) of Illicit Flows and Criminal Things: States, Borders, and the Other Side of Globalization (IUP, 2006).

Indiana University Press

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

1 Introduction: Nuclear Power and Atomic Publics Itty Abraham 1

2 Fevered with Dreams of the Future: The Coming of the Atomic Age to Pakistan Zia Mian 20

3 India's Nuclear Enclave and the Practice of Secrecy M.V. Ramana 41

4 The Social Life of a Bomb: India and the Ontology of an "Overpopulated" Society Sankaran Krishna 68

5 Pride and Proliferation: Pakistan's Nuclear Psyche after A. Q. Khan Ammara Durrani 89

6 The Politics of Death: The Antinuclear Imaginary in India Srirupa Roy 113

7 Pakistan's Atomic Publics: Survey Results Haider Nizamani 133

8 Gods, Bombs, and the Social Imaginary Raminder Kaur 150

9 Nuclearization and Pakistani Popular Culture since 1998 Iftikhar Dadi 173

10 Guardians of the Nuclear Myth: Politics, Ideology, and India's Strategic Community Karsten Frey 195

List of Contributors 213

Index 215

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