Centre interdisciplinaire sur les enjeux stratégiques (CIENS)

Conférence internationale – Getting rid of Nuclear Weapons

Conférence internationale organisée par le CIENS le 29 Mai 2019


Since the dawn of the nuclear era, nuclear deterrence has been contested and criticized, both as a legitimate policy on the basis of its immorality, and as a practical policy on the basis of its inefficiency and dangerosity.

These questionings opened the path to a great diversity of movements that have been involved in nuclear disarmament, either directly – peace and antinuclear movements, national and international peace organisations, including professional (notably scientific and religious) organisations – or indirectly – direct action groups (more common in anti-nuclear energy groups), environmental, feminist, anticolonial or human/civil rights groups, and political parties.

Despite their differences, these entities have all contributed to the edification and circulation of a broad corpus of criticism against nuclear weapons.

Recent studies and movements have re-energized the pro-nuclear disarmament agenda in the West and the strong criticism against nuclear deterrence, especially on ethical, moral and philosophical grounds (see, for example, changes in religious thoughts, notably the Catholic Church in Rome). 

New studies have also opened up new avenues to better understand the transnational circulation of ideas and concepts related to disarmament, the role of inter/trans/national nuclear imaginaries, the connection between national and transnational histories, and the interactions between grassroots activism and “transnational professional activism” in the creation of nationally based movements, in order to shed light on the complex dynamics that interact to favour the development of disarmament movements.

Therefore, the researchers gathered for this conference will investigate the following themes :

  • the philosophical, religious and ethical foundations of disarmament movements, their evolutions and interactions with the political sphere, with a focus on the Catholic Church and Russian Orthodox Church (panel 1) ;
  • the circulations, transfers and re-appropriations of ideas, practices and peoples among disarmament movements and more broadly among transnational activist movements (involved in other issues such as environment, technology, fight against corruption, etc), their interactions with states apparatus, political parties and civil societies, and their roles in the emergence and reconfiguration of inter/trans/national networks and communities. These topics would be approached through a variety of contemporary case studies, including : South-African and ’Oceanian’ movements, as well as global advocacy perspectives (panel 2) ; Western European movements and their Western connections, both in the post-World War Two and in the ’Second Cold War’ eras.


8h15-8h30Registration and welcome coffee
8h30-8h45Welcome address by Nicolas Roche (Director of the CIENS) 
8h45-10h15PANEL 1 : Religious and Philosophical Foundations of the Role of Nuclear WeaponsChair and discussant : Nicolas Roche (Director of the CIENS) Hubert Tardy-Joubert (CIENS, Ministère de l’Europe et des Affaires étrangères), Philosophical foundations of disarmamentMgr Bruno-Marie Duffé (Vatican State, Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, General Secretary), Catholic Church positions about nuclear weapons and conditions of an ethical approach of a political peaceDmitry Adamsky (IDC Herzliya), Russian nuclear orthodoxy : sources and consequences of the pro-nuclear ecclesiastical position in Russia 
10h15-10h30Coffee break 
10h30–12h  PANEL 2 : Circulations of Ideas, Peoples and Practices among Contestation Movements : Views from the ’South’ and Global PerspectivesChair and discussant : Tiphaine de Champchesnel(IRSEM)  Jo-Ansie Van Wyk (University of South Africa), Liberation movements and nuclear disarmament : The case of the African National Congress and the South African nuclear weapons programmeN.A.J. Taylor (The University of Melbourne and the University of New South Wales), The visual politics of Oceanic nuclear colonialismCéline Jurgensen (CIENS) The Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons : transnational circulation of ideas, concepts and practices among activist movements 
12h-14hLunch break
14h-16hPANEL 3 : Circulations in Europe and the Western WorldChair and discussant : Guillaume de Rougé (CIENS – ENS-Ulm) Ilaria Parisi (CIENS – ENS-Ulm), The pacifist contagion in 1980s Europe : explaining the force of a divisive movementSusan Colbourn (Yale University), Battlefield Europe : Limited Nuclear War, the Euromissiles, and the Quest for a Nuclear-Free EuropeHenning Fauser (Université de Tours), French concentration camp survivors and their associations in the struggle against nuclear armament (1949-1991)Sylvia Kesper-Biermann (Universität Hamburg, Faculty of Education), “To imagine […] what nuclear weapons actually do”. Transnational Circulation of Anti-Atomic War Comic Books during the 1970s and 1980s 
16h-16h30Concluding remarks by Nicolas Roche (Director of the CIENS) 

Contact : ciens@ens.fr

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