Asian Fury: Gender, Orientalism and the Indo-Pakistani Nuclear ‘Threat’ in US Foreign Policy Discourse, 1998 – 2009

Citation:

Vaughan, Tom. 2013. “Asian Fury: Gender, Orientalism and the Indo-Pakistani Nuclear ‘Threat’ in US Foreign Policy Discourse, 1998 – 2009.” Working Paper No. 09-13, School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies, University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom.

Author: Tom Vaughan

Abstract:

Since India and Pakistan each carried out their second tests of nuclear weapons in 1998, US foreign policy discourse and Western media has often taken as fact the 'threat' of nuclear conflict in the region. This dissertation argues that a critical constructivist approach is required when studying Indo-Pakistani nuclear relations, given the inadequacies of structural realism and its unhelpful assumptions about the 'nature' of international politics. Since realist accounts make up the majority of recent literature on the subject, this dissertation aims to provide an alternative account, examining how US foreign policy discourse constructs the condition of threat through representations of the US, India and Pakistan. Using a discourse analysis methodology, I investigate the gendered and orientalist constructions of India and Pakistan which contribute to the mainstream perception of nuclear threat on the South Asian subcontinent. In a two-part analysis, I examine the effect that the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks have had on the US discourse around Indo-Pakistani nuclear behaviour. I find that the US discourse changes significantly over time. From the 1998 tests onwards, a direct and imminent nuclear threat to international security is constructed. After 9/11, this threat is increasingly negated. Across both periods, the US discourse constitently feminises and orientalises India and Pakistan in relation to a dominant US masculinity – practices which are instrumental in the representation of threat – although the uses and effects of these representational practices shift over time. The discursive changes observed demonstrate how 'radical breaks' in history can change knowledge about international politics, and illustrate how US foreign policy discourse reconfigures the US's global identity after 9/11.

Keywords: United States, India, Pakistan, nuclear, non-proliferation, Foucault, discourse, gender, orientalism

Topics: Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Feminisms, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Discourses, Nationalism, Security, Weapons /Arms Regions: Americas, North America, Asia, South Asia Countries: India, Pakistan, United States of America

Year: 2013

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