‘Playing with Uncertainty: The Politics of the Unknown and the Nuclear Threat in Britain, 1979-85’ Book Project

CRAM member Dr Christoph Laucht has been awarded a British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Small Research Grant to complete the archival research for his current book project. This study explores the role that uncertainty, as a result of a lack of verifiable knowledge, plays in liberal democratic societies. It examines this crucial, yet widely neglected subject through a micro historical study of the ways in which different actors, including the state, parliamentary and extra-parliamentary groups, experts from various disciplines as well as popular media, used, or ‘played with’, the uncertainty about the expected effects of nuclear war for political purposes. The book studies this politics of the unknown within the British context at a time when perceived fears of a nuclear threat intensified between 1979 and 1985. This research thus makes a major contribution to the study of the epistemological uses of uncertainty in liberal democracies, contributes to de-centring Cold War historiography away from the superpowers, and challenges established assumptions about the dominance of nuclear fear in every-day life.

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