Looking over the Horizon: Nuclear Abolitionism and the End of the Cold War, 1979-1989

Freeman, Stephanie, History - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Hitchcock, William, Department of History, University of Virginia

“Looking over the Horizon: Nuclear Abolitionism and the End of the Cold War, 1979-1989,” examines nuclear abolitionists’ influence on the trajectory of the Cold War’s last decade. The 1980s was a unique decade during which the radical goal of nuclear abolition enjoyed staunch support from both grassroots movements across the globe and the leaders of the two superpowers, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. This dissertation demonstrates that the goal of nuclear abolition united political adversaries within the United States and the Eastern bloc to reshape U.S. and Soviet arms control policies and influence Gorbachev’s “common European home” initiative and support for freedom of choice in Europe. Interweaving the efforts of grassroots anti-nuclear activists and government officials committed to nuclear disarmament, this work reveals the important yet unappreciated role that nuclear abolitionists played in the Cold War’s endgame. Drawing on multinational and multilingual archival research, this project shows that the end of the Cold War cannot be understood without taking into account nuclear abolitionists, which many scholars surprisingly have neglected in their analyses of why the Cold War ended.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Nuclear disarmament, Nuclear abolitionist, Anti-nuclear movement, Cold War, Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, U.S. foreign relations, Soviet foreign relations, Europe, Arms control
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