Austin Cooper is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania. Austin’s dissertation explores how demands for decolonization in 1960s Africa collided with the Cold War arms race. This project aims at a history of the international controversy surrounding the French bomb, whose existence France proved in the Algerian Sahara during the Algerian War for Independence (1954–62). Radiation risk from Saharan fallout became a key frame not only for African challenges to colonial exploitation of the continent, but also for African interventions in the international nuclear order. Austin’s research draws on diplomatic, scientific, and personal collections in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and France, several declassified only recently as a part of this project.
Austin’s dissertation research has been supported by the Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad (DDRA) program, Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) program, Nuclear Proliferation International History Project at the Wilson Center, and Eisenhower and Johnson Presidential Libraries. At the University of Pennsylvania, Austin served as a teaching assistant for undergraduate courses in the Health and Societies and Science, Technology, and Society programs. Before beginning doctoral work, Austin participated in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program on a research fellowship in Paris.