Centre interdisciplinaire sur les enjeux stratégiques (CIENS)

Study Day – Social sciences and military nuclear powerStudy Day

Study day for young researchers from the Centre interdisciplinaire d’étude sur le nucléaire et la stratégie (CIENS) – April 20, 2023 – Campus Jourdan – Salle Madeleine Réberioux

Organized by the ENS’s Centre interdisciplinaire sur le nucléaire et la stratégie (CIENS) (Interdisciplinary Center for Nuclear and Strategic Studies), and aimed primarily at young researchers, this study day proposes to use the notion of threat as an entry point for reflection on sources, methods and theories in the social sciences in relation to military nuclear power.

Since the fall of the USSR, the study of military nuclear power has given rise to a series of works, most often by strategic experts, which underline the topicality of nuclear deterrence and have contributed to the renewal of its history in a profoundly renewed international context. In her latest book, La dissuasion nucléaire au XXIè siècle (Nuclear deterrence in the 21st century), Thérèse Delpech takes stock of the nuclear crises of the 20th century and raises the question of the risk of proliferation in the Middle East and Asia, described as “strategic piracy”, while Nicolas Roche, in his book Pourquoi la dissuasion? (Why deterrence?), shows and explains the importance of deterrence in the light of the Syrian and Ukrainian crises, which at the time had little to do with military nuclear issues.

Since the start of the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, the spectre of Russia’s use of nuclear weapons on European soil has once again become a central element of public debate. However, the international context marked over the last 30 years by growing multipolarity, the development of new conflictualities (cyber, space and energy) and profound changes in the world of the media have given rise to a debate on the qualification of the new strategic environment. It is against this backdrop, which puts the issue of nuclear deterrence back at the center of media attention, that this study day aims to reflect on the social sciences in relation to military nuclear power, taking as its point of entry the notion of threat.

Its ambition is to approach the question of threat from a perspective that is not exclusively political, geopolitical or strategic, by looking in particular at how the question of military nuclear power has been addressed by the social sciences since the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

Bringing together social science researchers in law, history, political science and sociology, the aim is to demonstrate the relevance of the study of a term and the evolution of its definition in the apprehension of military nuclear power, and to raise the question of its construction around a narrative and the narratives that frame it.

The day will attempt to identify the influence that military nuclear power has had on the social sciences, and the transfer of categories, models and analyses from scientific circles to public policy players.

9:30am-10am: Welcome coffee for participants

10:00-10:15: Presentation of the scientific approach of the study day by CIENS young researchers

10:15-12:30: First round table
Nuclear regimes

Moderator: Pierre-Louis Six (CIENS/ENS)
Discussant: Dominique Mongin (CIENS/ENS)


  • Thomas Blaizeau, Université Paris-Saclay
    “Reconversion stratégique mais risquée d’une entreprise d’État : la difficile transition du Service des poudres vers l’atome militaire (1945 – 1970) “
  • Maïlys Mangin, University of Lille, Centre d’études et de recherches administratives, politiques et sociales (CERAPS)
    “De l’Arms control à la lutte coercitive contre la prolifération : l’institutionnalisation de la non-prolifération nucléaire au prisme des investissements du mandat de l’AIEA” (From arms control to the coercive fight against proliferation: the institutionalization of nuclear non-proliferation through the prism of investments in the IAEA’s mandate).
  • Tatiana Kasperski, Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona
    “The Changing Political and Symbolic Status of Military Nuclear Waste in Russia”.

12:30-14:00: lunch (buffet)

14h-16h15: second round table
The regulatory framework for nuclear power

Moderated by Pierre Ramond and Marie Duclaux de L’Estoille (CIENS/ENS)
Discussants: Raphaëlle Nollez-Goldbach (DSS/ENS) and Mélanie Rosselet (CIENS/ENS)

Speakers :

  • Estelle Beauvillain, University of Strasbourg
    “Does nuclear deterrence constitute a threat to use force prohibited by Article 2§4 of the United Nations Charter?”
  • Pierre Ramond, École Normale Supérieure/CIENS doctoral school,
    “Les négociations sur le nucléaire iranien et l’émergence d’une diplomatie européenne” (Iranian nuclear negotiations and the emergence of European diplomacy)
  • Lise Dubois, Université Jean Moulin-Lyon 3
    “Penser le risque nucléaire sans posséder l’arme nucléaire. Le cas de la République fédérale d’Allemagne face à l’Initiative de défense stratégique (1983-1986)”.
  • Marie Duclaux de L’Estoille, CIENS
    “Interpreting the withdrawal clause in nuclear treaties”.

3.30 – 4 pm: Discussions with the audience

16h-16h30 : General conclusions

16h30-17h30 : Coffee to conclude the day

6pm-8pm: The day’s audience will be able to attend the sixth session of the Séminaire central d’actualité et de recherche sur les questions stratégiques, during which Pierre Ramond (CIENS/ ENS) will welcome Frédéric Gloriant, MCF Histoire contemporaine de l’Université de Nantes – CRHIA, to discuss the book resulting from his thesis, “Le schisme franco-britannique. From Suez to the 1963 veto” (2023). Room: Théodule RIBOT (29 rue Ulm).

Scientific Committee

Mongin Dominique (ENS/INALCO), Raphaëlle Nollez-Goldbach (ENS/DSS), Mélanie Rosselet (ENS/CEA), Stéphane Van Damme (ENS/History) and Leïla Vignal (ENS/Geography)

Organizing committee

Marie Duclaux de L’Estoille, Pierre Ramond and Pierre-Louis Six for the Centre interdisciplinaire d’études sur le nucléaire et la stratégie.

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