Hiroshima in Egypt: interpretations and imaginations of the atomic age

Hebatalla Taha
Wed, 13/04/2022

This article focuses on Egyptian interpretations of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the US at the end of the Second World War. It surveys the reactions and responses of influential thinkers between 1945 and 1951, a crucial period prior to decolonisation. The objective of this research is to capture a specific moment in time and understand how it shaped imaginations of the future. The article argues that the bombings of Japan generated fantasies and anxieties about the postcolonial future. Intellectuals were enthusiastic about the possibilities of nuclear science and energy, but at the same time they engaged in nuanced and critical debates about the emergence of a nuclear-armed world, including its intertwinement with race and colonial power. In addition to exploring Egyptian thought on the nuclear condition, this historical analysis allows us to better understand Egyptian nuclear decision-making after independence. Revisiting this period, furthermore, illustrates the importance of imagined futures in shaping nuclear choices.

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