A Post-colonial Analysis of India–United States Nuclear Security: Orientalism, Discourse, and Identity in International Relations

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Journal of Asian and African Studies, ISSN: 0021-9096, Vol: 52, Issue: 6, Page: 741-759

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Runa Das
SAGE Publications
Social Sciences
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This article uses Edward Said’s post-colonial framework to analyze India–United States (US) nuclear security relations in the post-Cold War period as a clash of US Orientalism and India’s nuclear sovereignty as a key marker of India’s post-colonial essence. Through an analysis of the discourses of India and the US with regard to India’s May 1998 detonation and the 123 Agreement, it explores the following questions: To what extent has America’s security relationship with India been characterized by Orientalist discourses? Does the revision of the US post-9/11 security relationship with India as evidenced through the 123 Agreement indicate continuity or change in America’s Orientalist discourses vis-à-vis the nuclear policies of the Indian state? How has this shaped India’s nuclear nationalism? In exploring these questions, it will be argued that US security discourses reflective of Orientalism have constructed India along Orientalist lines; have structured US security policies towards the nuclear strategies of the Indian state (thereby consolidating India’s nuclear nationalism); and, that the revision of the US security relationship with India post-9/11 shows a continuity of America’s Orientalism towards the Indian state and its nuclear program. The article concludes with an analysis of the implications of Orientalism on South Asian security/International Relations.

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