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  Armadeddon Insurance: Civil Defense in the United States and Soviet Union, 1945-1991  

Please join us, in person or online, for a conversation with Dr. Edward Geist on "Armageddon Insurance: Civil Defense in the United States and Soviet Union, 1945-1991".
Abstract: This talk is part of the first historical study of the postwar Soviet civil defense program, as well as an innovative comparative account of American and Soviet civil defense. The study offers a comparative institutional history of the superpowers' civil defense drawing on previously unexamined Soviet and American archival sources. Grounding the programs in their respective political and cultural contexts, it offers findings that challenge common assumptions about the logic driving the two nations' potentially apocalyptic nuclear flirtation, such as that that a mutual recognition that nuclear war would be suicidal prevented the leaders of the two superpowers from embracing civil defense. In actuality, Moscow and Washington developed their civil defense policies in accordance with domestic political concerns, sometimes in direct contradiction to their declared strategic doctrines or military planning. the strange history of Cold War civil defense shows that the superpowers made their nuclear weapons policies not on the basis of rational strategic or technical consideration, but as the result of power struggles between different institutions pursuing their own narrow self-interest, with results that imperiled the survival of civilization itself.
About the speaker: Dr. Edward Geist is and Associate Policy Researcher at the RAND Corporation. Previously a MacArthur Nuclear Security Fellow at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation, received his Ph.D. in Soviet history from the University of North Carolina in May 2013. His research interests include emergency management in nuclear disasters, Soviet politics and culture, and the history of nuclear power and weapons. A recipient of fellowships from Fulbright-Hays and American Councils to conduct research in Moscow and Kyiv, he has published articles in the Journal of Cold War Studies, Russian Review, Slavic Review, and the Bulletin of the History of Medicine.

About the Seminar: This lecture continues a successful new speaker series, SIREN (Seminar on Interdisciplinary Research and Education in Nuclear Emergency Response), which features leading international experts on nuclear emergency response. The series is part of an NSF CAREER grant (PI Sonja Schmid) and is hosted by Virginia Tech's Department of Science and Technology in Society, with generous support from the Office of the Vice President for the National Captial Region. The talks take place once a month at the Virginia Tech Research Center in Arlington, VA (metro Ballston). Light Refreshments will be served. The events are free and open to the public, but RSVP is requested. If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact Sonja Schmid at 703-538-8482 or email during regular business hours at least 10 business days prior to the event. Graduate students are encouraged to arrive at 12:00pm to chat with the speaker.
A live webcast will be available at
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Location: Virginia Tech Research Center in Arlington, VA (metro Ballston)
Price: free
Contact: Sonja Schmid
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