State, identity and representations of nuclear (in)securities in India and Pakistan

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A plethora of theoretical perspectives have explained India and Pakistan's nuclearization. Such arguments, while partially correct, offer little that incorporates how the constitutive nature of states' identities explain their perceptions of (in)securities and nuclear policy choices. In this article, I offer an interpretive analysis of India and Pakistan's nuclear trajectory by exploring the representations of (and the connections between) their nationalist identities, perceptions of insecurities and nuclear policy choices. Following the critical constructivist premise, I argue that while India and Pakistan have justified their nuclear policies on the basis of certain geo-strategic (in)securities, the interpretation of what constitutes their national selves and (in) securities have been driven by their historical legacies, economic or developmental anxieties, and their political leaders' (or states') ideologies. Seen from this critical constructivist perspective, I particularly draw attention to a conjectural moment of South Asian politics, where, following India's nuclear detonation under the BJP in May 1998, the nuclear (in)security discourses of India and Pakistan have drawn from cultural re-articulations of their nationalist identities and (in)securities to justify their nuclear policies. I conclude by suggesting the need to engage realism (i.e. the material realm) with critical constructivism (i.e. the interpretive realm) to comprehend cultural productions of identities and (in)securities in inter-state politics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)146-169
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Asian and African Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2010


  • Identity
  • Insecurity
  • Nuclearization
  • Representations
  • South Asian politics


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