Abstract

This panel will cover the historical development of nuclear proliferation in the Asia-Pacific region. Since the Non Proliferation Treaty in 1968, the focus has always been on the state. The human element in this process is not well delineated. Despite the fact that nuclear development has penetrated into the lives of the common man, the social and cultural aspects in the Asia-Pacific region were not adequately dealt with. For example, prominent scholarly literature in this area focuses on the processes of China and India’s acquisition of its nuclear arsenal without looking at the personal motivations of scientists. Similarly, the literature on the development of nuclear energy in Japan, and Malaysia suffers from similar shortcomings. High level politics were given prominent attention while ground level operators were given short shrift. More importantly, this field is dominated by policy studies pundits whose research questions do not necessarily examine the debilitating effects of domestic politics. Discrepancies galore plagued recent popular vernacular accounts. English accounts too suffer from embellishments. By devoting attention on scientists and engineers, this session aims to cover a few of the following research questions. One, how has 20th century scientific endeavours fitted the transnational mode of thought and process? Two, how had various state treated its experts which it had so earnestly courted? Three, what were the personal motivations of these experts? Four, how about the inherent nationalism present in most young intellectuals in the aftermath of WWI? How has nationalism sustained its experts? What was the life arc of such nationalism? What were the motivations for young postcolonial nations, such as Malaysia, to venture into the development of nuclear power and energy as part of the Atom for Peace program, and where do they stand in relation to their East and South Asian counterparts in terms of their participation in the trade of nuclear technology and the deployment of such technology to fulfill a development agenda. Finally, how did the experts contribute to their respective societies given the fact their earlier careers were focused on bringing death and destruction to their erstwhile enemies.

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