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Preventing ‘A Virological Hiroshima’: Cold War Press Coverage of Biological Weapons Disarmament

Balmer, BL; (2016) Preventing ‘A Virological Hiroshima’: Cold War Press Coverage of Biological Weapons Disarmament. Journal of War & Culture Studies , 9 (1) pp. 74-90. 10.1080/17526272.2015.1101877. Green open access

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Abstract

This article examines representations of biological weapons during a crucial period in the recent history of this form of warfare. The study draws on a corpus of newspaper articles from the US New York Times and the UK Times and Guardian written around the time of the negotiation period of the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention, the international treaty banning this form of warfare. We argue that a conventional discourse can be found wherein biological weapons are portrayed as morally offensive, yet highly effective and militarily attractive. Interwoven with this discourse, however, is a secondary register which depicts biological weapons as ineffective, unpredictable and of questionable value for the military. We finish with a somewhat more speculative consideration of the significance of these discourses by asking what might have been at stake when journalists and other writers deployed such differing representations of biological warfare.

Type: Article
Title: Preventing ‘A Virological Hiroshima’: Cold War Press Coverage of Biological Weapons Disarmament
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/17526272.2015.1101877
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17526272.2015.1101877
Language: English
Additional information: © 2016 The Author(s). Published by Taylor & Francis. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Permission is granted subject to the terms of the License under which the work was published. Please check the License conditions for the work which you wish to reuse. Full and appropriate attribution must be given. This permission does not cover any third party copyrighted material which may appear in the work requested.
Keywords: Biological warfare, biological weapons, germ warfare, media, newspaper, disarmament, Cold War
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Science and Technology Studies
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1476808
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