Historical Social Research

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Astrid Mignon Kirchhof: Spanning the Globe: West-German Support for the Australian Anti-Nuclear Movement [Abstract]

In the 1970s and 1980s, 70 per cent of uranium deposits extracted worldwide was situated on the land of indigenous populations whose cultures and physical well-being were threatened by the mining activities. Nevertheless, bowing to the need for supply security which had become its primary concern in the wake of the oil crisis, the German government declared nuclear energy to be safe and secure. Under the motto “Leave uranium in the ground“, representatives of the West-German Green Party faction gave a voice to representatives of indigenous populations from various countries. In this article, I will discuss the hypothesis that, although international anti-nuclear and disarmament issues in the 1970s offered the basis for a global and transnational collective activist identity, this identity was more frequently negotiated in the respective national arenas. Rather than building on the involvement of movement activists, cross-border exchange was mostly established by, and often limited to, leading figures, prominent thinkers, institutions and alternative media. Besides these obstacles, a number of channels for transnational exchange, the transfer of information and ideas did in fact exist and the level of communication (albeit not so much cooperation) was significant, considering that the internet and other technical means were not yet available to bring the world more closely together.

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