Accepted Paper:

Embracing the "atomic future" in post-war Austria  


Florian Bayer (University of Vienna)

Paper short abstract:

This paper is a case study of nuclear science and technology in post-war Austria. While the institutional dimension is reflected as the formation of a technopolitical regime, different moments of relating the nuclear to specific political goals as well as suitable pasts and futures are discussed.

Paper long abstract:

The proposed contribution a three dimensional analysis of how the "atomic age" was appropriated in Austria in the mid-1950s: First, the institutional dimension is considered by investigating the formation of the Austrian Commission of Atomic Energy 1954/1955 as part of the formation of a technopolitical regime. The creation of the commission in the aftermath of US President Eisenhower's Atoms for Peace speech and actions taken by the commission, - e.g. preparations for the Geneva Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy in 1955 - are studied to understand how science, technology, industry and the state interacted in order to enable Austria "entering the atomic age".

Second, different forms and moments of embracing the nuclear within the Austrian context are scrutinized. This will show the multiple ways in which appropriating nuclear technology - understood as "a mode of politics" (Hecht 2011, 2) - and political goals were entangled, which ranges from the so called "reconstruction effort" after WW II over striving for national independence to the international positioning of Austria in the Cold War.

Third temporal aspects are reflected, by analyzing how various references to Austria's "tradition" in nuclear science were called upon in the processes described above. However, also different promises, scenarios and trajectories were invoked to strategically mobilize the future. These forms of dealing with past, present and future are analyzed as building blocks in the institutionalization of technopolitical projects and the co-production of respective (socio)technological imaginaries in the context of the Cold War.

Panel T093
Infrastructures of nuclearity: Exploring entangled histories, spaces and futures