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Gender and the nuclear weapons state : a feminist critique of the UK government's white paper on Trident

Duncanson, Claire and Eschle, Catherine (2008) Gender and the nuclear weapons state : a feminist critique of the UK government's white paper on Trident. New Political Science, 30 (4). pp. 545-563. ISSN 0739-3148

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Abstract

This article enquires into the connections between gender and discourses of the nuclear weapons state. Specifically, we develop an analysis of the ways in which gender operates in the White Paper published by the UK government in 2006 on its plans to renew Trident nuclear weapons (given the go-ahead by the Westminster Parliament in March 2007). We argue that the White Paper mobilizes masculine-coded language and symbols in several ways: firstly, in its mobilization of techno-strategic rationality and axioms; secondly, in its assumptions about security; and, thirdly, in its assumptions about the state as actor. Taken together, these function to construct a masculinized identity for the British nuclear state as a "responsible steward". However, this identity is one that is not yet securely fixed and that, indeed, contains serious internal tensions that opponents of Trident (and of the nuclear state more generally) should be able to exploit.